Kenya puts absentee landlords on notice

June 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 29 – Absentee landlords risk losing their leasehold when the new land policy takes effect, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said.

He said the new policy which recently sailed through the cabinet would ensure that allotees who failed to develop their land parcels were either penalised or stripped off ownership rights.

The Premier told coastal residents during the thanksgiving party of Malindi Member of Parliament Gideon Mungaro that squatters in the area were likely to benefit when the legislations governing the new policy is entrenched in the Constitution.

“The government will soon give natives the idle land earmarked for repossession from these absentee landlords so that they can be put into productive use when the new regulations are in place,” he declared.

Mr Odinga however allayed fears of a Zimbabwean style of dispossession and made it clear that the new policy would be legally binding and in conformity with the laid down international standards and practice.

“Our policy will be nothing similar to the Robert Mugabe way of doing things but will have an acceptable and fair system of undertaking the exercise,” he said.

The Premier decried that coastal residents were the worst affected by the regressive colonial land policies which deprived locals the right to ownership of their ancestral land.

He said the colonial administrations enacted and ratified the implementation of partisan land policies which gave foreigners free leases to large tracts of land at the expense of the natives.

Mr Odinga told a rally in Malindi that the selective policy rendered most Africans landless hence the need to review and restructure a favourable document that looked into the interest of all people regardless of their diverse backgrounds.

“The Cabinet has already approved the first ever land policy of the post colonial regime and the document may soon be tabled in Parliament for possible ratification into law,” he said.

He said the inception of the policy was part of the government’s reform agenda that were tailored to streamline governance structures adding that others areas in focus include the Judiciary, the Police and the Constitution.

The Premier said budgetary allocations in the current financial year were deliberately tailored to devolve funding to lower governance levels in line with aspiration of the majority Kenyans.

He said the allocation covered most vital sectors but directed project directors to ensure that labour and resources for the exercise were derived from the host communities unless under extreme situation.

Mr Odinga also announced government’s plans to upgrade the Malindi Airport to international status to attract and promote the global tourism circuit.

Several MPs including three cabinet ministers graced the occasion in which leaders declared their wish for the entrenchment of a devolved system of government in the constitution.


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