The Opposition on Wednesday called for a boycott of milk products from a firm associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta, to protest the ‘cheap sugar’ deal with Uganda.
Some MPs called on Kenyans to boycott milk from Brookside Dairies, saying the firm would benefit greatly from the deal at the expense of local sugar farmers who would suffer as a result of cheap sugar importation.
As we prepare to move to the ground this Friday we call on our people to rethink their relationship with the companies in whose name our sugar sector is being killed. We ask you to boycott the milk that is to be exported to Uganda, said the party in a statement ready by Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua at Orange House in Nairobi.
They said it was wrong for Jubilee to invoke Mr Odinga’s name every time they were challenged over failure to tackle corruption.
No nation ever developed by abandoning its products. The US imposes quotas on Toyota to protect its auto industry. We ask Kenyans to buy Mumias, Sony, Nzoia, Chemelil and Muhoroni sugar and build our country, the party added.
Ms Mutua was accompanied by seven ODM MPs who demanded that the agreement be made public so that Kenyans could know its benefits.
Kenyans should be told what is contained in the agreement. Kenyans are not fools to be taken for a ride, said Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.
The calls by the Opposition adds a new twist to the sugar saga even as Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industries, whose leaders accompanied President Kenyatta to Uganda, explained that the agreement was for the removal of administrative obstacles – non-tariff barriers – which blocked entry of Uganda’s sugar to the local market.
The memorandum of understanding, the chambers chairman Kiprono Kittony said, was signed between the Kenyan and Ugandan chambers on August 11.
Mr Kittony said the sugar issue had been over-politicised adding that key in their discussion with Uganda was how a stakeholder meeting should be held to air out issues and formation of East Africa Sugar Board fast tracked to handle sugar imports.
Any other discussions on sugar were held at government levels, Uganda had proposed that Kenya lifts some non- tariff barriers on sugar and that could have been the subject of discussions, said Mr Kittony.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, who was in the delegation, reinforced the chamber’s boss’ position that no deal was signed with Uganda to allow its sugar into the local market.
If an instrument was signed between the two countries, it would already be out in the media. There was no instrument on sugar that was signed. Discussions were held on all commodities which we exchange through trade between the two countries, she said in an interview.
OBSTACLES TO TRADE
The memorandum was prompted by complaints from both Uganda and Kenya business people who lobbied their respective Presidents to lift the non-tariff barriers which were impeding trade between the two countries.
While Uganda businessmen were more concerned about the obstacles which hindered export of sugar to Kenya, their local counterparts were facing the same issues over export of beef, dairy products and rice.
The Opposition has, however, taken advantage of the government failure to disclose the details to contend that President Kenyatta signed the deal with Uganda to flood the Kenya market with cheap sugar.
It has escalated into a dirty personal war between Deputy President William Ruto and Cord leader Raila Odinga.