Leaders from the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja coalitions clashed over accusations that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga owed a substantial debt of Ksh300 million to Mumias Sugar Company.
This dispute arose during discussions regarding plans to revive Mumias Sugar Company and other struggling state-owned sugar mills.
Kimani Ichung’wah, the Leader of the Majority and a member of the Kenya Kwanza coalition, accused Raila Odinga of neglecting his financial obligations to Mumias Sugar Company, arguing that it should be part of the broader efforts to reinvigorate the beleaguered sugar industry. Ichung’wah boldly asserted, “I am aware that the leader of the ODM party owes Mumias Sugar company more than Ksh300 million.”
This allegation sparked a heated exchange, with Opiyo Wandayi, Ichung’wah’s counterpart from the Azimio la Umoja coalition, requesting concrete evidence to substantiate the claim. Wandayi challenged Ichung’wah, stating, “Could he present evidence or consider retracting his statement and issuing an apology?”
Nevertheless, Ichung’wah stood firm, emphasizing that this matter concerned the public interest and that there were publicly available documents, including those presented in Parliament, supporting his assertion.
Mumias Sugar has long grappled with a substantial debt burden, estimated at Ksh4.8 billion, contributing to the larger problem of Ksh90.4 billion in debts owed by state-run sugar mills.
To address these financial challenges, the government recently sanctioned the write-off of Ksh117 billion owed by five government-owned companies, with the aim of revitalizing these once-thriving entities.
Specifically, Mumias Sugar Company is set to benefit from the complete clearance of its debt as part of the government’s initiatives to restore these ailing companies to profitability.
While these political clashes continue, the future of Mumias Sugar and other struggling state-owned sugar companies remains a significant concern for Kenya’s economic landscape.