“We had a problem! Again because of drought, because of shortage of maize, prices began to skyrocket. And by the way, wacha niwakumbushe, that situation also happened in 2011 when the man who is shouting loudest today was the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya. Alright? 2011, when prices hit Sh140 for a 2-kg packet of unga. What did he do? When people demonstrated, he tear-gassed them. That is a fact… Bei ikakaa, ikakaa at that level. Haikushuka.” - President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 19, 2017.
In September 2010, one month after the Constitution was promulgated, a 2kg pack of sifted maize flour cost Sh63 on average, according to the Consumer Price Index. By April the following year, the price was up to Sh95, before rising further to Sh109, Sh130 and Sh136 respectively, in May, June and July of that year.
Then the average price fell by 6.82 per cent in August to Sh126.72, 3.1 per cent in September to 122.80, and 3.0 per cent in October to Sh119.11.
Given that the peak price of Sh136 was an average, it is impossible to rule out that some maize meal may in fact have cost Sh140. However, the words Mr Kenyatta says for emphasis imply it stayed at Sh140 for a sustained period, and there is no data to prove that.
It is true that people who protested the high price of food on July 7, 2011 were dispersed with teargas. July 7, or ‘Saba Saba’ has been associated with protests since 1990, during the struggle for multiparty democracy.
Regarding the President’s claim that Raila Odinga had tear-gassed protesters in 2011, a look at previous Cabinets reveals that the minister the police would have come under in 2011 was the late Prof George Saitoti, appointed from the PNU side of the Grand Coalition. His official title was Minister of State in the Office of the President for Internal Security and Provincial Administration.