Waititu's battle against alcoholism ruffles feathers
10 months ago, 12 Mar 10:29
Governor Ferdinand Waititu is in the middle of a storm after his battle against alcoholism in Kiambu County sparked fury among liquor manufactures and sellers. Immediately after assenting to the 2017 County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act last week, Mr Waititu said he would close all bars in Kiambu and sued liquor manufactures and sellers, Kenya Bureau of Standards and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinett. The governor, who has accused the three of neglect and irresponsibility, wants the court to stop dealers from renewing their licences. PROTEST MARCH Mr Waititu says he would ask the court to compel illegal alcohol manufacturers and sellers to compensate families of those who die from liquor-related complications. But what appears to have angered players in the liquor industry is his directive that bars remain closed. Bar owners and liquor manufacturers are planning protest marches against Mr Waititu. Speaking in Gatundu North when he signed the bill, Mr Waititu said the new law meant there was no licensed bar in Kiambu. ZOMBIES The owners, he said should apply for permits fresh, “and it is not guarantee they will be renewed”. “No bar in Kiambu has a licence. We will close them down. None of them will be operational until they apply for permits afresh, and it is residents who will approve the licences. If they do not want bars, that is how things will remain,” Mr Waititu said. He said the county had borne the brunt of illicit liquor “which has left many people dead and others reduced to zombies”. “Not even protests will make me turn back. It is now or never,” he said. POPULISM Bar owners, led by their welfare association chairman Richard Kagiri have threatened protests against Mr Waititu, terming the directive illegal. “The case is meant to threaten bar owners so that we don’t take him to court. We know he signed some Act but it was never published in the Kenya Gazette. What he is doing is populist and illegal,” Mr Kagiri said. Alcoholic Beverage Association of Kenya chairman Gordon Mutugi said the court case came as a surprise “considering that we have been fighting substandard drinks”. NO POLICE ABAK membership consists of Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd, Africa Spirits Ltd, Kenya Breweries Ltd, UDV (Kenya) Limited, WOW Beverages, London Distillers and Moonwalk Investments. The abrasive governor told chiefs, county commissioners and the police not to take part in the crackdown against liquor, accusing them of corruption. “We have made sure that people who have been handling alcohol issues like the chiefs, have been thrown out of the fight by this law,” he said. "Matters to do with alcohol are devolved." REINFORCEMENT But while addressing the media after a meeting with police bosses and chiefs at Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology, Central Kenya Regional Coordinator Wilson Njega said chiefs and police must and would take part in the crackdowns. Mr Njega said county governments were only mandated to license alcohol outlets and formulate laws to regulate the business, but the reinforcement ...
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