Orengo blames judiciary for Kenya land woes

July 14, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 14 – Lands Minister James Orengo said on Tuesday that the slow pace of judicial reforms was hindering efforts to repossess grabbed public land.

Addressing a civil society forum on the implementation of the Ndung’u Report, Mr Orengo said land reforms may not be achieved until the enactment of a new constitution.

He cited the Judiciary’s powers to overturn revocation orders issued by the Minister, saying they were to blame for the lack of progress in concluding the numerous land cases that had been filed by Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

“It has been very difficult to expedite this cases and sometime when the finally proceed the courts have a tendency of using the principle of sanctity of title would normally would normally find favour with individual lands owners and those who’ve probably acquired title on first registration,” he said.

Mr Orengo assured participants of political will from the coalition government in implementing the Ndung’u Report, some raised doubts by ICJ Executive Director George Kegoro who called for the implementation to be endorsed by the President and Prime Minister.

He said his ministry and the Kenya Law Reform Commission were working on creating a land disputes tribunal to deal with land allocation and land grabbing.

He said the Bill establishing the tribunal which will assist in clearing a lot of injunctions against revocation of grabbed land will be ready in the next two to three months for parliamentary debate.

The Lands Minister said he will also be tabling the Draft Land Policy which will enhance land reforms before Parliament next month.

“We are drafting legislation in order to create a legal regime that would deal with the issues raised in the Ndungu report. We don’t seem to be making progress in the courts. KACC has taken so many cases (to the courts) and they not moving forward. This tribunal will be a more expeditious process,” said the Lands Minister.

The policy seeks to decentralise the process of government land ownership from the Permanent Secretary of Finance to individual government departments.

Other salient features in the policy include the establishment of a National Land Commission to take away the powers to confer land ownership from President and the Commissioner of Lands.

The Commission will be accountable to Parliament.

The government has also frozen the allocation of public land limiting it only to foreign investors as part of its push to curb land grabbing. Also, the Ministry of Lands has to “properly” audit and certify all such allocations before transactions are completed.

Mr Orengo said the vast Coast Province will be given special consideration in the implementation of policies as it has the most number of cases of the landless.

“This is because of an influx on land by buyers waiting to cash in on the business out of the proposed port to be constructed in Lamu” said the Lands Minister.


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