Leaders wage new war on illegal brews

Friday February 19 2016

Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti and other leaders from Mt Kenya region during a press conference at Outspan Hotel in Nyeri town on February 18, 2016. The leaders threatened to destroy buildings housing distilleries of illicit brews. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti and other leaders from Mt Kenya region during a press conference at Outspan Hotel in Nyeri town on February 18, 2016. The leaders threatened to destroy buildings housing distilleries of illicit brews. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GUCHU NDUNG'U
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By ESTHER MWANGI
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Central Kenya leaders Thursday threatened to destroy buildings and vehicles storing and transporting illicit alcohol in their counties.

The leaders meeting in Nyeri said the same tactics used to destroy a ship found with drugs in Mombasa last year would be employed.

They were referring to an incident when President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the blowing up of a ship by the Kenya Navy off the coast of Mombasa.

The more than 100 leaders from 11 counties of the former Central, Eastern and Rift Valley provinces, also pledged to mobilise their supporters to register new voters.

This would be a similar strategy to one used by politicians in western and Nyanza regions.

Internal Security PS Karanja Kibicho and central regional coordinator Naftaly Mungathia attended the meeting funded by a group calling itself the Mount Kenya Foundation which consists of wealthy business people from the region.

The tycoons, who include Equity Bank Chairman Peter Munga, raised Sh51 million in a harambee earlier this week to finance the talks.

ILLICIT BREW

Last year, politicians in central Kenya led a campaign to destroy distilleries and alcohol in an operation that sometimes turned violent.

Though condemned by the courts and some in the new generation distilling business, residents welcomed it as necessary to rid the area of runaway alcoholism.

Thursday, the Central Kenya Parliamentary Group meeting under the chairmanship of Dagoretti MP Dennis Waweru did not say what law they would use to destroy the vehicles and buildings.

The date when the campaign kicks off  is expected to be announced Friday.

“If your car is found transporting illicit brew; if you are found selling illicit brew in your house, we will use the same procedure employed when destroying drug ships. We will destroy them,” said Mr Waweru.

The leaders recommended changes to the Alcoholics Drinks Control Act, popularly known as the Mututho law, saying aspects of the law were unconstitutional.

They argued that the “Mututho law” was drafted during the old Constitution when the national government licensed bars, yet under the present law it is a devolved function.

Different counties have different drinking hours, number of bars needed per area and different laws on rehabilitation of addicts.

“We want to harmonise the laws regulating the manufacture, retailing, transportation and consumption of alcohol in our 11 counties,” said Mr Waweru.

Nacada Chairman John Mututho who attended the meeting said: “Those bad brews are poison. And you destroy poison together with the container holding it.”

VOTER REGISTRATION STRATEGY

On voters’ registration, Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti said: “We have realised that Nyanza, Coast and Western regions have mobilised their people to vote in droves yet the same enthusiasm is not being replicated in Mt Kenya.”

The leaders had promised to add four million new voters from Mount Kenya region and parts of Nairobi and Rift Valley.

Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe castigated critics of the organisers of the meeting, saying other leaders always meet to advance the welfare of their regions and Mt Kenya people are no different.

The leaders denied reports that TNA had opposed the merger of Jubilee affiliate parties, saying the President’s party is working on dissolution.

The MPs, however, steered clear of new corruption claims against former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru.

“The issues we are discussing here are bigger than Waiguru,” said Mr Waweru.