Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential flagbearer, Raila Odinga, has come under harsh criticism over remarks he made during the unveiling of his manifesto on Monday, June 6, 2022.
In his remarks that seem to have been widely shared to spread misinformation, Raila stated that the importation of Mitumba had killed Kenya's textile industry, pledging that his government will revive the cotton industry should he become president.
"In textile manufacturing, here there is going to be backward and forward integration. We will re-introduce cotton growing in large numbers in our country. Our textile industry was killed through liberalization and then they brought mitumba.
"We are going to go into primary production so that our people who are importing Mitumba can have good products to sell here. I am saying that we are not putting anybody out of business. we will ensure that those who are importing Mitumba get the first hand to market goods which are going to be manufactured here in this country. We will get the cotton, we will spin it here and we will make finished products here. This will create a very good source of employment for our youth in the country," Raila stated.
In the sentiments that seem to have been edited to spread misinformation Raila said:
"Our people are only wearing mitumba, clothes that are coming outside the country, that are worn by people who are dead. We are going to go to primary production so that our people who are importing mitumba can have a good product to sell here."
The former premier further clarified that the move will not eliminate those who engage in Mitumba importation from the business but give them first-hand opportunity to market clothes manufactured in Kenya.
His remarks sparked public debate from critics who ran with the 'Mitumba dead people' remarks.
Reactions to Raila's sentiments
Kimilili Member of Parliament Didmus Barasa castigated Raila over the remarks asking Kenyans to forgive him.
"Those bashing Raila Odinga for his comments on mitumba clothes should forgive him. This is a man who was born when his father was Vice President," he stated.
One Hon Flexman said: "I have been wondering why Gikomba burns every now and then. I realised there are people who want hustlers out of it saying Mitumba is for the dead people."
I have been wondering why does GIKOMBA burn every now and then...Kumbe Kuna watu who wants hustlers out of it Saying MITUMBA is for the dead people. 😭RAILA ODINGA will never be president#Everyhustlematters— Hon.Flexman (@FlexmanHon) June 6, 2022
His supporters however defended the move stating that the move will create employment and enhance the production of quality materials for Kenyans.
Raila's supporters come to his defence
Leaders such as Kisumu governor Anyang Nyong'o defended Raila's sentiments stating that he was misunderstood by members of the public.
"Raila was just misquoted. His plan actually intends to change the mitumba sector and make it more affordable to all traders in the country. His plan will save many traders the headache of making expensive imports," the Kisumu governor told KTN News.
Others include social media users such as Bruno M Otiato who stated:
"Very brave that Raila Odinga touched a raw nerve: Mitumba. When Rwanda banned Mitumba in 2018, it fell out with the US government. They forfeited AGOA for their dignity. Let's revive our textile industries by looking at the demands of the market. EAC is a BIG market for us."
Very brave that Raila Odinga touched a raw nerve: Mitumba. When Rwanda banned Mitumba in 2018, it fell out with the US government. They forfeited AGOA for their dignity. Let's revive our textile industries by looking at the demands of the market. EAC is a BIG market for us.— Bruno M Otiato (@bruno_otiato) June 7, 2022