Maize flour in Kenya

The cost of maize flour, used to make Kenya’s staple food, has been cut in half less than three weeks before the general elections of the East African country.

The measure aims to deal with the rising cost of living that has seen prices of basic commodities soar.

According to the BBC, a 2kg (70 oz) packet of maize flour will now retail at $0.84 (£0.70), instead of $1.77.

Critics however say Kenyatta is using the measure to influence the choice of his successor in the August 9 elections.

Kenyatta has rejected the accusation while stressing that the price rises themselves were political.

His words “It is shocking to politicise the misery of the vulnerable… It’s more distasteful to gain political capital out of the sufferings of the vulnerable, without offering solutions,” he said in a speech.

His government has blamed external factors, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for affecting the prices of fuel and food.

Annual inflation hit 7.9% in June, with the cost of basic commodities such as food and non-alcoholic beverages rising by 13.8% during the same period, according to the national bureau of statistics.

Most Kenyans determine the state of their lives by one thing – the price of basic commodities as the majority of households equate that to the cost of a 2kg packet of maize flour in the shops.

Maize meal is the key ingredient for “ugali” a local delicacy and staple food in Kenya

It’s therefore not surprising that a directive to lower prices by Mr Kenyatta on Wednesday created a buzz on mainstream media and on online social media platforms.

Kenyatta noted that the new prices were achieved after days of negotiations between government and the maize millers.

His government has proposed to suspend a railway development levy charged on imported maize and the import declaration fee to achieve the new prices.

But the subsidy is not new. In 2017, the ministry of agriculture contracted nine millers to lower the cost of maize meal. However, the deal fell through after the millers accused the government of failing to pay them.

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