AGRICULTURE minister William Ruto and Ikolomani MP Dr Bonny Khalwale yesterday faced each other off over the maize scandal as tempers flared freely in the House forcing Speaker Kenneth Marende to intervene. The accusations and counter accusations that degenerated into personal vendetta dragged in the names of MPs Ababu Namwamba and nominated MP Amina Abdalla who personally accused Dr Khalwale of peddling rumours and dragging in names of persons who cannot defend themselves in Parliament.
Trouble started when Khalwale, rose on a point of order to seek the Speaker’s indulgence to defer the conclusion of a ministerial statement he issued last week on grounds that the minister misled the House and the public in order to cover-up the scandal. Ruto told the Speaker that he had furnished the House with all details on the maize scandal and was ready to respond to any clarifications.
Khalwale rose to ask the Speaker to defer the matter since Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had commenced investigations and preliminary report shows that the minister grossly misled Parliament in the list of 3,000 millers he tabled last week and needed more time to contradict this. He particularly ruffled feathers when he gave an example of Wasu Milliers, a company associated with the widow of the late Dr Guracha Galagalo that was allegedly allocated 16,503 bags of maize.
He claimed that a company by the name Mafuta millers was associated with Minister Ruto and that it was allocated 100,000 bags of maize. He went ahead to state that the minister had misled the House that he had no knowledge of maize exports to South Sudan yet the Prime Minister confirmed the same by sacking one of his aides over the scam. He said Ruto lied to the public and the House by claiming that there was only 1.6 million bags of maize at the Strategic Grain Reserve yet the there was 2.6 million bags.
The Ikolomani MP said Ruto denied the existence of authorisation chits to National Cereals and Produce Board when infact he has evidence of such chits. He said the minister denied unprocedural release of maize at NCPB to influential people and companies of political elites citing Wasu and Mafuta millers as examples. When stating that he had evidence of claim he was making Khalwale said Ruto exposed apparent cover up of the scandal by sacking some NCPB board members and retaining others.
He said the minister denied existence of ghost millers in the list he tabled saying maize was released to millers who had no crashing capacity. But he was interrupted severally by Ruto who described Khalwales claims as “very unfortunate” charging that the MP is using the floor of the House to peddle rumours about his connections with any milling company and challenged the legislator to table evidence to that effect. Ruto accused Khalwale demonstrating malice on the matter by naming companies of individuals’ especially the widow of Galagalo who can not defend herself in Parliament. “Khalwale has something up his sleeves.
To make allegations about a Mrs Galgalo, the widow of our former colleague that she is a girlfriend of a certain politician is unacceptable. How will Khalwale feel if one of his many wives is discussed in this House yet she can not defend herself,” Ruto said. Amina Abdalla supported Ruto challenging Khalwale to declare his interest in the Galgalo widow saying that if the late Galgalo had a bone to pick with him he should say for MPs to repay him.