Below is a statement by Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) about the planned protests to demand action over high food prices:
Kenya's fuel and food prices are fast becoming unbearable for majority Kenyans. The current increment cannot be sustained. Its adverse effects will be felt for a long time to come socially, economically, environmentally and politically.
The country's highest leadership can no longer bury its head in the sand and assume the business as usual posture on pro-poor interventions.
Kenya's fuel prices poses a serious threat to the country's stability as the country heads into a transitional general elections in August next year. Indeed, it is a defining moment in our country's history and one that will shape our immediate future.
Several excuses have been advanced - weak shilling, high inflation rate, the Northern Africa and Arab world crisis, among others. But those are just excuses not because they are not valid but because there is little Kenya can do about them.
On the contrary, no one is talking about the internal factors of the high prices. From lack of political will (not surprising that neither President Mwai Kibaki nor Prime Minister Raila Odinga have found it necessary and urgent to speak about the fuel and food crisis) to outright corruption and institutional gross ineffiencies and open secret that some quarters could be using the fuel crisis to fundraise for the 2012 general elections.
We are disturbed that the Minister for Energy Mr Kiraitu Murungi has been playing politics with the matter of fuel prices for a while. He has been left to walk away with many unexplained issues - from the "Triton Scandal" where the taxpayer lost Sh7.8 B to politically connected shenanigans; the irregular award of the 30% quota for the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock) which Nock couldn't service after all; the poorly representative (stakeholder and regional) key energy parastatals and the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The minister is yet to explain the fraud that was the so called "free energy saving bulbs" that were hardly distributed and accounted for. The list is long.
Tired of the double-speak from a Minister of Energy who publicly confesses a formula applied by ERC is a flop without generating an alternative, Kenyan consumers are saying enough is enough. It is for this reason that we are calling for peaceful demonstrations on Tuesday, 19th April from 12 pm at Uhuru Park in Nairobi and other major towns across the country.
Arrangements for the peaceful demonstrations are now complete. In Nairobi, the consumers will congregate at Uhuru Park from where short speeches from invited leaders (including several sitting and former MPs).
The procession will then follow Kenyatta Avenue and present its petition to the Hon. Kiraitu's Nyayo House 9th floor office, thereafter present the same petition to the speaker of the National Assembly and finally to the offices of the Prime Minister and the President.
Our partners are working on the route details in other parts of the country. We appreciate the support of Kenyans and other friends of Consumers Federation of Kenya who have given us support and especially for the goodwill messages.
Led by our Secretary General, Cofek will be addressing a press conference in Mombasa (Travellers Beach Hotel) tomorrow, Monday, 18th April from 11 am where I will give final details of the Tuesday demonstration.
We urge all media houses to dedicate their editorials messages to fuel prices crisis on Tuesday. We appreciate those that are already doing it.
Stephen Mutoro, Secretary General, Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek)