The politics behind Mumias Sugar woes

The politics behind Mumias Sugar woes

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A week after the murder of Mumias Sugar Company legal affairs manager Ronald Lubya, politicians have entered the fray to win mileage and deny it to others using the sad incident something that has seen accusations levelled at William Ruto to the effect that he is playing behind the scenes to frustrate the revival of Mumias Sugar.

Lubya’s death has led to explosion of accusations and counteraccusations at Mumias Sugar with supposed confidential documents surfacing.One such document implies Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali was demanding Sh10 m  for Jubilee campaigns.

The letter supposedly by immediate former Mumias Sugar CEO Errol Johnston to the company’s board chairman Kennedy Mulwa, and copied to all senior managers, linking Ruto to his decision to flee the country surfaced.

Currently holed up in Australia, he alleged how Jubilee top brass led by Treasury PS Kamau Thugge were fighting the revival of Mumias. It has emerged, Thugge with investment secretary Esther Koimeet have been pushing for the sale of government shares in Mumias to Rai family associated with Panpaper Webuye and Butali Sugar. The idea has been on but was shelved due to August polls.The Rai family is close to Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto.The family has donated millions towards Jubilee campaigns and allegedly using political connection does not want Mumias back on track and so that they can buy it at a throwaway price as it happened with Panpaper. It has further been alleged that the DP obstructed banks from negotiating with Mumias. The letter further reveals how Ruto visited Mumias on May 6 and publicly gave the chairman two weeks to sack the corrupt managers. He had been briefed by Washiali. Apart from Johnson, also targeted is the finance manager of Asian origin.

Sources say the DP held meetings in Nairobi where it was plotted on how to kick out the CEO and friendly managers.

Johnston and the chairman allegedly disagreed on phone conversation  May 14 2017 at night after the CEO accused the chairman of having chaired a sinister meeting.

The Rai family has reportedly agreed to buy Mumias and donate a percentage shares to a firm associated with Ruto.

In yet another storm that is now threatening to further sink the trouble ridden Mumias, further details of how the management differed over the Sh239m from the Sugar Development Levy.

The letter allegedly from the chairman that Mumias has dismissed as fake reads “I sincerely appreciate your efforts and concerns jointly with the area member of parliament Hon Ben Washiali in facilitating the release of Sh3b as promised by HE the President. The main aim of this letter is to let you know that we are not able to release Sh10m to Hon Washiali for his Jubilee campaigns because we won’t be able to account for it and our core priority is to pay farmers and to maintain the factory machines”.

Johnson has further revealed how Washiali pushed him to release the Sh10m but he stood his ground and explained that the bailout fund was fully audited by KPMG and that was impossible.

On demanding to know why Mumias should finance Washiali’s campaigns to the tune of Sh10m, Johnson claims he was given a list of politicians who were to benefit from the Sh10m.

On May 13, while touring Kakamega, Ruto expressed disappointment that the government’s previous bailout of Mumias had been unsuccessful and blamed its incompetent management.

But even as politics plays out, a new CEO has been hired in what the management and the board say is aimed at restructuring the organisation with a view to reducing waste. This is said to be going down well with cane farmers, low cadre workers and Moco members whose only interest they say is to put their children through school and give their families a good life.

Some workers and farmers expressed satisfaction with the restructuring of the institution saying that Mumias is more important than the board and the former MD. All they want, the farmers said, is to see their company free from Jubilee-Nasa politics because when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. They told Johnson to keep off.

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