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SUNDAY DIGEST – The hypocrisy of our national leadership and the elitist ‘mama mboga’ bill

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The Mama Mboga Bill

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) has proposed a raft of regulations to guide the implementation of Crops Act 2013. Among the regulations is the requirement that “all food crop produce shall be offered for sale only at designated markets.” Anyone found flaunting this rule will be charged a fine of Sh. 500,000 or be imprisoned for a period of one year. This proposal is elitist and out of touch with the reality. Here is why.

If the idea is to ensure that the food sold to the final consumer is of a certain standard, then the mama mboga should not be the target of the law. The target should be at the point of production. The mama mboga is only serving a need – taking the product closer to the consumer. At this level, the final consumer pays the least as opposed to when the same produce is purchased at the supermarkets or other designated places.

Forcing mama mboga to operate from designated markets raises the cost of operation, which in turn means she must incorporate the costs into the food prices – making them more expensive. Most counties have also increased the rates of operating in county-managed markets. Currently, Nairobi County charges Sh. 250 per week for a small kiosk.

This is what mama mboga pays weekly and it translates to Sh. 12,000 per year in fees. For her to hire a stall at Gikomba market or in any of the designated markets outside the Nairobi CBD, she will be charged between Sh. 1,300 and Sh. 2,000 per month depending on the category of the stall. This translates to annual fees of between Sh. 15,600 and 24,000. So, why would she move to an expensive place away from her customers?

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Hypocrisy of Our Leadership

President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta visited Ukambani this week to launch the newly refurbished Machakos Level 5 hospital and went ahead to insult those opposed to his government – the opposition – calling them ‘wajinga’. While he may have been irked by the opposition for constantly putting his government under immense pressure – which is their role anyway – he came out as very irresponsible in his remarks.

As a president, Uhuru is the leader of this country and must therefore behave as such. Having a lose tongue does not help create a cohesive country. By insulting the opposition and asking them to go to school, it is not just the leadership of the opposition that feels insulted. It is the entire community of Kenyans who feel that his government has not done enough to address the problems affecting this country – ethnicity, corruption, insecurity, and poverty.

Just a day after the Machakos episode, president Uhuru attended a National Prayer Breakfast at Nairobi Safari Park. He asked the leaders to re-evaluate their actions and urged Kenyans to have a self-reflection and do what is right to make the country great. To say this just hours after tearing into the opposition was hypocritical. Such utterances from leaders do not help but, instead, aggravate ethnicity and foster politics of exclusion.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Fredrick Ombako

Fredrick Ombako is a research consultant at ResearchPro Solutions and Director at Bukas Accountancy & Consulting Limited. He consults mostly for NGOs and county governments by conducting research studies, Monitoring & Evaluation, and Project Management. You may reach him on 0721977108


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