July 17, 2019

Controversy fills imported maize as Mexico denies shipment

Recent importation of maize to Kenya has been dogged by controversy.

Fresh details reveal that the consignment of 29, 000 tonnes of white and yellow maize was an old stock purchased by South Africa last year when it was experiencing food shortages.

South Africa had imported the maize from Mexico last year.

Further, the Mexican Embassy in Nairobi has said that it cannot confirm the transaction of the alleged importation of maize from the country by Kenyan government, Daily Nation reports.

The importation was done by three private milling companies namely Kitui Flour Mills and Pembe Flour Mills and Hydery (P) limited.

Kitui and Pembe mills imported 10,000 tonnes each while  Hydrey (P) Limited imported 9,900.

The Embassy in a press statement said that it cannot declare the nature of the transaction since it involves a private entity.

“Since these are private sector operations, the Embassy will not, and has not made any kind of declaration on these commercial transactions,” the Mexican Embassy in Kenya said in a statement to the media.

Government had stated that it will import maize from Mexico to address the shortage that has hit the country in the past few months.

But five days later, a vessel docked at the Port of Mombasa raising questions just how fast the ship travelled from Mexico.

But Transport Principal Secretary Prof Paul Mwangi on Monday confirmed that the shipment was from South Africa.

He explained that it has been there for storage since last year.

“The white maize was imported by South Africa from Mexico last year when there was a shortage in that country. The excess amount was stored in Durban and sold to Kenya by Inter Africa Gains PTY of Johannesburg,” he said.

The mystery surrounding the efficiency in importing the maize as well as its origin has opened a political battle between opposition and Jubilee.

The opposition argues that government had already a predetermined position to import the maize even before they announced their plan and also alleged that there could be people benefitting from the importation.

But Deputy President William Ruto hit back insisting that the number of days the ship took to arrive in Kenya is insignificant.

What is of importance, he said, is that millers have enough maize to mill which translates to reduced maize flour prices.