Kenya: VP warns famine relief thieves

Makueni, Jan. 29, 2009. The government will take stern action against any individual implicated in the theft of famine relief, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has warned. Saying already there were several cases of such thefts across the country, Mr. Musyoka asked the recently-formed Monitoring Unit in Special Programs ministry and the Criminal Investigations Department to swing into action and bring those involved in the evil act to book.

He said it was immoral for anyone to take advantage of the suffering of the poor Kenyans who are going without food to enrich oneself.

"We condemn these heartless people and warn them that apart from risking arrest, they are also attracting a curse upon themselves" Mr. Musyoka warned when he distributed famine relief to residents of Kitise in Makueni constituency at Kitise township.

Accompanied by area MP Peter Kiilu, Assistant ministers Gedion Ndambuki (Agriculture) and Abdinassir Mahmoud (Special Programmes), Mr. Musyoka gave out 300 bags of rice, 400 of maize and 120 cartons of cooking fat to the residents valued at Kshs. 2.4million.

The Vice President assured Kenyans that the government was determined to ensure that all Kenyans are cushioned from the effects of the famine and was working with other governments and non-state organizations towards that end.

He added that arrangements were underway to re-introduce the school feeding program through the World Food Programme and asked school administrations to ensure they have kitchens from where to prepare the food.

Mr. Musyoka said time had come for a long-term solution to be found for the perennial famine in Ukambani.

He therefore asked the area residents to come up irrigation societies which will be facilitated to dam local rivers and grow food.

On the teachers' strike, Mr. Musyoka made a passionate appeal to teachers and the KNUT leadership to call off the strike and pave way for fresh dialogue with the government.

Mr. Musyoka said the government appreciated the concerns raised by the teachers, adding that it was willing to enter into a new workable deal with the educators.

He noted that country was going through a difficult economic period, worsened by the current drought, global economic recession and a drop in the country's GDP thus necessitating an agreeable discussion between teachers and the government.

"The government is willing to look at the figures afresh and strike a quick deal with the teachers" Mr. Musyoka noted, adding that the stand-off had cost the country numerous man-hours, and subjected both parents and innocent children to trauma.

Mr. Mahmoud revealed that every month the government was spending Ksh.300million towards fighting the famine while the non-state agencies were using Ksh. 100 million for the same.

Mr. Kiilu appealed to the government to facilitate businessmen from the far-flung areas of the constituency to buy the government-subsidized maize flour so that they could sell it in their areas, noting that majority residents could not reach the district headquarters where the maize is available.

The function was also attended by the Cooperative Secretary Mr. Daniel Maanzo, Special Programmes Permanent Secretary Ali Daudi and Makueni District Commissioner Mr. James Mwaura.

Later, the Vice President joined the family, friends and relatives of the late Mrs. Esther Mbengwa Kiiti Kamba during her burial at Mwaani village in Wote, Makueni District.

The late Esther who passed away at the age of 84, was the wife of the late Benson Kiiti Kamba.

The Vice President described the late Mama Esther as an educationist who played a key role in the establishment of Kiiti Kamba Foundation whose objective is to provide education opportunities for the young people in the district.

Mr. Musyoka also laid a foundation stone for a tuition block at Mwaani Girls High School.