NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – A taskforce has been set up by the government to resettle beneficiaries of the Chebyuk Phase Three Settlement Scheme who have been at the centre of a bitter land dispute in the Mt Elgon region.,
The Ministry of Internal Security appointed a one-time Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi to head the panel which has a two month mandate.
The Kaguthi taskforce is “to liaise with the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to fast track the degazettement of the Chebyuk Phase Two and Three settlement projects,” a statement by Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia read in part.
These were controversial resettlement projects which sought to distribute land between communities who lived illegally in the forests around Mount Elgon in the 1970s. The first phase of the resettlement project has however been largely accepted.
A section of indigenous Chebyuk residents unhappy with the second and third phase of plan, termed it unfair and politically motivated. Violence broke out in 2006 and a militia group, the Sabaot Land Defence Force, was formed alleging to fight for the community’s land rights. This year, the government sent the army into the area in an operation that killed the group’s leader Wycliffe Komon Matakwei.
The document added that the Kaguthi panel would also be required: “To identify the list of 1,732 beneficiaries and resettle them on their duly allocated parcels of land.”
The 11-man panel which consists of representatives from the Ministries of Land, Health, and Finance among others is also mandated to “advise the Minister (of Internal Security) on the availability of land for purchase by the government to resettle the remaining 352 unsettled persons.”
Wednesday’s statement also named a taskforce on the demarcation of the disputed Tharaka and Tigania districts.
It has six members led by former Provincial Commissioner Zachary Ogongo who is the chairman. It is to submit a report to the Ministry of Provincial Administration within 90 days.
The panel will “coo-ordinate and oversee the delineation and demarcation of the disputed boundaries in the greater Meru District generally and between Tharaka and Tigania districts in particular.”
They will have the powers to “receive evidence and any relevant information they may require and seek the assistance of locals and public officers in carrying out their duties.”