Leaders from Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja coalitions clashed in Parliament on Thursday after the Leader of the Majority Kimani Ichung’wah accused former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of failing to settle a Ksh300 million debt to Mumias Sugar Company.
The lawmakers were debating action plans to revive the ailing miller and other state-owned sugar companies when the statement was made.
During his presentation, Ichung’wah argued that the ODM leader should be compelled to settle his debt as part of the cleanup of the ailing sector.
“I know (the ODM party leader) also owes Mumias Sugar company above Ksh300 million shillings,” the Kikuyu MP pointed an accusatory figure.
National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah addresses a crowd during an event in Kirinyaga County on March 18, 2023.
“I want to ask the Hon Nabulindo (Peter, Matungu MP) to ask the party leader of ODM to pay up the money he owes to Mumias Sugar so as the company benefits also benefits from commercialisation.”
The claim unsettled Ichung’wah’s minority counterpart Opiyo Wandayi who then challenged the Kenya Kwanza-affiliated legilator to table evidence supporting his claims.
“It is not right for Honourable Ichung’wah to claim that the leader of ODM, and there is only one leader of ODM, owes Mumias Sugar Ksh300 million. Why would that be an allegation to happen on the floor of this house. Can he table evidence or withdraw and apologise,” rebutted Wandayi.
The Kikuyu MP, however, later defended his claim arguing that his claim was a matter of public concern.
“It is only right that if you are writing off debt owed to the public, even individuals and private companies that owe the sugar companies should and must pay up. On the question of the leader of ODM, it is in public domain including documents tabled in this house,” he insisted.
Mumias Sugar Woes
Mumias sugar has for years choked under a mountain of debt which was estimated at Ksh4.8 billion, a fraction of Ksh90.4 billion owed by all state-run sugar millers.
Towards the end of August, the Head of State authorised the State to write off Ksh117 billion owed by five government-owned companies.
At the time, Ruto noted that the write-off was aimed at ensuring that the ailing companies, which were once leading in their industries, returned to profitability.
Specifically, Ruto noted that Mumias Sugar Company, which has reeled under a mountain of debt, will see its entire debt cleared.
“Last week, I tabled a report in Parliament that the debt owed by our companies are Ksh117 billion and the Government of Kenya will write off all of it,” he stated at the time.
Ugunja Member of Parliament, Opiyo Wandayi, and Jubilee Party Secretary General, Jeremiah Kioni, sit on top of a car during Azimio La Umoja protests on March 30, 2023.