NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – A number of Cabinet Ministers, current and ex-Members of Parliament, former administrators and military officers have been named as beneficiaries of close to 60,000 acres of land belonging to the Agricultural Development Corporation in Molo.
The list tabled in Parliament by Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki on Wednesday listed Ministers William Ruto, William ole Ntimama and George Saitoti as people who were allocated the land originally meant for resettling squatters in the Rift Valley.
Other beneficiaries include current MPs Isaac Ruto, Boaz Kaino and Wilson Litole. Former Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones, who passed died last year was also one of the beneficiaries.
"The Ministry of Agriculture was requested by the former regime to surrender this land to the Ministry of Lands and Settlement as land trustee. It is the Lands Ministry that allocated the land and not my Ministry," Mr Mbiuki said as he defended the Agriculture Ministry from accusations that it was part of the scheme of dishing out the land meant for squatters.
While the squatters were meant to get five acres each, the top government officials benefited from tens of acres in different settlement schemes.
"Yes the list may read as who is who but maybe by then they were squatters," Mr Mbiuki said sarcastically.
MPs were enraged by the revelations and demanded answers from the Assistant Minister.
The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources is currently probing the matter and has already deduced evidence from ADC managing director William Kirwa.
"Could the Minister own up that they gave their friends and powerful people in the government and ignored the squatters?" Naivasha MP John Mututho asked.
"If we continue with this trend of giving the little land we have what will happen to the Internally Displaced Persons and other squatters,? Molo MP Joseph Kiuna posed.
In the meantime the re-opening of the Webuye Pan Paper Mills has stalled, three months into a deadline given by the government.
Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey told Parliament that creditors had given unrealistic conditions to the government before they could allow for the re-opening to go on. Mr Kosgey reported that the lenders who are owed over Sh8 billion want the government to clear most of the arrears of the company.
The Kenya, Power and Lighting Company and Kenol Limited who are the main energy suppliers have remained adamant that they have to be paid first before they can even consider the move," he said.
Mr Kosgey said the creditors have further demanded that they be allowed to appoint receiver managers whose cost would be met by the government. The Minister said the government was considering invoking its sovereignty rights and re-opening the company through a court order despite the resistance.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim ordered that Committee of Implementation to investigate the matter after the government reneged on its commitment to re-open the company in June this year following a request by Webuye MP Alfred Sambu.
"This is the most useless statement I have heard. What the Minister is telling us we already knew," Mr Sambu said.
Elsewhere the government has enlisted an additional 27 financial institutions as intermediaries for the distribution of the Women Development Fund. Gender Affairs Minister Esther Murugi says among them are two Sharia compliant institutions that will make the monies available to the Muslim community especially in Northern Kenya.
Ms Murungi was responding to queries by MPs Sophia Abdi and Ekwe Ethuro who complained that the funds are not accessible to communities in Northern Kenya.