The sale of imported maize scandal became public in January 2009. The ban on importation of maize was lifted in late 2008 by the government to allow capable businessmen to import maize to supplement the local produce that was below the minimum required to satisfy the local market.
In early 2009 however, after parliamentary debate on a maize scandal, William Ruto was accused by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale of illegally selling maize. All the documents bearing the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) seal that linked Mr Ruto to the illegal sale of maize were provided and accepted by Parliament’s deputy speaker.
It was alleged that Briefcase millers, existing only on paper, were given huge quantities of maize by the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR). They accomplished this by inflating their milling per-hour capacity and having 4 Permanent Secretaries approve them. These millers and local businesses were either awarded quotas by the SGR or import permits by the NCPBK respectively were alleged to have re-directed the bags of maize outside the country as well to avoid price controls stated by the government and thus make better profits.
The ministries and departments that were implicated included; Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Special Programmes, Ministry of Finance & Treasury department and the Ministry of the Prime Minister. The Office of the Prime Minister gave instructions not to return the contaminated maize back to South Africa and was retained in Kenya to be destroyed. The puzzle is, was the maize destroyed?