Citizen Television news anchor Hussein Mohamed on Tuesday had a torrid time moderating an interview, whose guests were the Majority Leader in the Senate, Kipchumba Murkomen and Cherangany Constituency MP Joshua Kuttuny.
The two leaders were debating on who is to blame for the woes facing maize farmers in Rift Valley region, the country’s bread basket.
Mr Kuttuny blamed the Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, for “not paying” maize farmers, instead channeling the money to “cartels and middlemen”.
He hit out at Deputy President William Ruto, for allegedly fanning the pain facing farmers in the North Rift; and through “cartels” allied to him, pocketing millions of shillings from NCPB, at the small-scale farmers’ expense.
That allegation prompted a vicious exchange with Mr Murkomen, an erstwhile Ruto rooter.
“Kuttuny, you have the audacity to speak ill against William Ruto. You have forgotten that it is the DP, who picked you when you were selling charcoal and introduced you to politics,” Mr Murkomen told Mr Kuttuny.
Stung by the accusation, Mr Kuttuny clapped back, spewing equal venom, claiming to have bankrolled Mr Murkomen’s take-off in politics.
“And you are forgetting that I am the one who was taking care of you back in the day. I was giving you upkeep money on a weekly basis. I have the M-Pesa statements to prove that. My wife sent you money, Murkomen. I gave you the first car, a Toyota Harrier, to use in your campaigns in the run-up to 2013 general election. Respect your elders.”
The host, Hussein Mohamed, had to remind the two leaders that their personal attacks were veering off the agenda of the interview.
Mr Murkomen, later, alleged that Mr Kuttuny has been adversely mentioned by the Akasha brothers, who pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking charges in the US on October 25, even daring him to press defamation charges if he had lied about his involvement in the narcotics trade.
Mr Kuttuny, however, played down Mr Murkomen’s allegations as “mere propaganda” just the same way “they linked me to the ICC case against William Ruto”.
Online users were shocked by revelations of the two leaders, wondering why they were using an interview platform meant to provide a solution to farmers’ woes, to settle personal scores.
The Cherangany legislator is among the North Rift MPs who have opposed the maize buying price set by the Cabinet last week, terming it “too low” and an insult to farmers.
Last week, the Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, set the buying price for each 90Kg bag of maize at Ksh2, 300. Mr Kuttuny and his allies; Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Moiben counterpart Silas Tiren, want the bag of maize to trade at Ksh3, 600 minimum.
Mr Murkomen, on the other hand, candidly stated that he “sees no problem” with the maize bag buying price set by the Government, saying farmers are “enjoying” fertilizer subsidies offered by the Government.
The two leaders also differed on whether it is possible for a single supplier of maize to be paid well over Ksh200 million by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
The cereals board, however, in an interview with Citizen TV reporter Sam Gituku said it is not possible for one farmer to walk home with a pay of over Ksh200 million for a single supply.
Mr Kuttuny claimed that “the most” a farmer can take home in a week for supplying maize to the strategic reserve was Ksh3 million.
“That is because supplying maize to the NCPB is a tedious process, and one can only do a maximum of 1000 bags per supply in a week. That translates to around Ksh2.3 million at the current set price,” said Mr Kuttuny.
Mr Kuttuny put Mr Murkomen to task to explain how a firm linked to DP Ruto supplied maize to the NCPB valued at Ksh20 million in a single trip.
Mr Murkomen defended Mr Ruto, saying the DP has a vast farm, which is over 1000 acres in Uasin Gishu County, hence the reason he supplied such a large amount of maize.