Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has accused President William Ruto’s government of focusing on 2027 election politics instead of coming up with a strong emergency response to the drought and hunger crisis.
In a statement, Mr Odinga censured the government for what he termed a “lacklustre response to drought and famine in Kenya”, even as he reiterated his stand against reintroduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country.
Mr Odinga alleged that “shylocks in government” were scheming to benefit from the drought situation by “making a killing to pay back their foreign backers and align with those corporations for the future”.
“In this scheme, the worse the pain, the bigger the gain for the shylocks in government,” he said.
Official figures indicate more than 4.2 million Kenyans are facing acute food insecurity, with about 2.7 million people in the crisis phase and 785,000 in the emergency state.
“This situation requires a massive emergency response programme to ensure rapid delivery of food, water and medicine to the millions of people not just in arid and semi-arid areas but in virtually all corners of the country, who are affected by the prolonged drought,” Mr Odinga said.
“This required emergency response is evidently missing but instead, the government is consumed by politics of survival and the elections of 2027,” Mr Odinga wrote in the terse statement.
He lamented that top government officials were blaming people who are not in government instead of taking full charge of running the country.
“As if the indifference is not bad enough, top government officials seem to be scheming to benefit personally from the drought.
“That is the logic behind the rush to allow genetically modified foods into the country,” he said. He described as a “cruel excuse” the explanation that the current hunger situation had prompted the government to reintroduce GMOs.
“It violates the rights of Kenyans and puts our national interest in jeopardy at the behest of foreign commercial interests. We remind the government that GMO crops are yet to achieve global acceptance in terms of safety. They are banned in many scientifically advanced economies like France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia.
Rights and dignity
Why Kenya?” he posed, and noted that introducing GMOs at a time of international uncertainties was tantamount to using Kenyans as guinea pigs, “which we shall not allow...
“Even the poor and the hungry ought to have their rights and dignity protected,” Mr Odinga said and vowed to fight GMOs in court and in farms across Kenya.
He said Kenyans deserve a clear plan for improving access to water for irrigation given the unpredictable weather patterns, improving infrastructure to facilitate access to the markets, improving agricultural extension programmes and empowering special interest groups. These include youth, women and persons with disabilities to participate in agricultural production.
“As we wait for that plan, the Kenyans caught in this drought and famine situation need help now, not optics and politics of blame games,” he said.