Senators have expressed outrage over the decision by the executive to hand over the running of the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). They have demanded that it be reversed, saying it amounts to the commercialisation of the military.
The senators further took exception to recent co-option of serving military officers in the management of civilian entities, saying it is risky, and warned that it could encourage the military to take State power by force.
“We have formed the habit of bringing active military officers into civilian life. Let it be known we are creating a monster that in the fullness of time will take power through force,” Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo told the House on Thursday as he opposed the move to hand over KMC to KDF.
He also cited the recruitment of Maj Gen Mohammed Badi to lead the Nairobi Metropolitan Services as one of the examples.
The matter came to the floor after Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka sought a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture demanding an explanation on what informed the transfer, how long KDF will run the facility and the implication of the transfer considering that agriculture and livestock are devolved functions.
The senator also wants the ministry to explain whether public participation was conducted in line with the law and the legal instruments used in the transfer submitted to Parliament.
Two weeks ago, Agriculture CS Peter Munya directed Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai to facilitate the transfer of KMC to the Ministry of Defence following an order by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
KMC was established through an Act of Parliament.
On Thursday, the lawmakers dismissed the memo as illegal, noting that the process used in the transfer was inappropriate. They argued that the best way would have been to amend the law that established KMC.
“The only way out was to amend the Act,” Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said, accusing the Attorney-General of not offering the executive proper legal advice.
The senator claimed that KDF is one of the biggest debtors to KMC with an estimated debt portfolio amounting to Sh7 billion, which it has never paid for a long time, and wondered whether this was part of the reason why it was handed over the facility.
Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki condemned the transfer, saying that doing business is not part of KDF’s mission.
“Kenya is a constitutional democracy and the least that can happen is for the law to be followed at all times. As a parliament, we will have failed in our mandate if we do not ensure that the law is followed in the transfer.
Nominated senator Abshiro Halake warned against commercialising the military, saying that KDF is not a meat processor and will not add value in meat products as required under the law creating KMC.
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo said the decision to transfer KMC should have been subjected to consultations.
However, Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji supported the move saying that KMC has been taken to its knees by corrupt management and KDF is the only institution best suited to save it.