Kenya 2022: The electoral politics of maize-meal shortages

By Jeff Otieno
Posted on Tuesday, 2 August 2022 20:20

A woman buys a packet of maize flour subsidised by government at a supermarket in Nairobi, Kenya 24 May 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Kenyan staple unga - maize meal - is disappearing from supermarket shelves ahead of the 9 August elections, raising questions whether the trend is mere coincidence or sabotage.

Has the ‘unga crisis’ become a new political tool in the country’s elections?

This is not the first time that unga has played a big role in politics. One afternoon in May 2017, then-cabinet secretary for agriculture Willy Bett organised a press conference in his office to unveil two-kilogram packets of subsidised maize flour.

Bett asked the reporters covering the event live to zoom in on the printed words ‘GOK @Sh90’ on one of the packets “so that viewers at home can see”.

“The imprint means that this is a property of the government of Kenya and must retail at KSh90 ($0.76) and not a shilling more,” he said.