Don’t use unga as carrot and stick for votes

A man carrying packets of unga

A man carrying a bundle of unga. The government’s move to reduce the price of unga through subsidies to millers is laudable.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The government’s move to reduce the price of unga (maize flour) in the country to Sh100—from a record high of more than Sh200—through subsidies to millers is laudable. Most families can now afford enough food.

But questions abound, seeing as the reduction is for only four weeks. This is happening for the second time under the Jubilee administration. And it seems it only happens during elections.

In the run-up to the 2017 General Election, as President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were seeking re-election, the government reduced unga prices to Sh90 for a 2kg packet.

The government had a lot of time to reduce the prices of basic commodities. It has unsuccessfully been trying to reduce the price of maize, which has risen by almost Sh100. But that comes after a lot of suffering by Kenyans. Besides, the harvest season has started in some places.

High price of inputs

The matter should have been addressed last year when farmers complained about the high price of inputs, particularly fertiliser. This made many farmers turn to other businesses. The matter of citing the Russia-Ukraine war as the cause of the high prices is widely seen as a ploy to hoodwink Kenyans, looking at the maize produced in the country vis-a-vis the millers’ capacity to process it.

The prices of other basic commodities should be reduced, seeing as the government has shown that it is capable of helping Kenyans to navigate the harsh economic times.

However, the citizens should be discerning enough to see that the month-long relief is something that has come after they had been left in the cold for five years. Kenyans should not forget that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that everyone is taken care of properly.

John Kuria, Kiambu

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Even as some read political mischief in the government’s subsidy scheme that saw unga prices halved and claim that it was choreographed to hoodwink voters with an eye on the August 9 general election,  many Kenyans were staring at starvation.

The government should now focus on robust mechanisms of making affordable unga sustainable and reducing the prices of other essential commodities—like cooking oil, soap and petroleum products to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living.

Kenyans should also be careful to vote in leaders who are committed to solving their problems.

Timothy Mwirichia, Meru

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Since the year began, food prices have been increasing by the day, making the cost of living too high for most Kenyans.

Politicians should find a better way to buy in the electorate instead of exploiting their suffering to win their votes. Let us choose the best leaders.

Jackie Muriithi, Nairobi

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