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Kenya MPs in heated Mau debate

NAIROBI, Kenya Sept 11 – Debate on the Mau Taskforce Report was disrupted abruptly on Thursday after Members of Parliament (MPs) claimed that they were debating a summarised version and not the entire report.

Belgut MP Charles Keter cited that crucial sections of the report were missing prompting his Chepalungu counterpart Isaac Ruto to accuse the government of trying to hoodwink the Parliament into passing a separate document from the one it intended to implement.

Mr Keter cited Annexes which relate to the methodology for the resettlement and compensation.
“Nobody is refusing the conservation of the Mau. What we are saying no to is the notion that if we adopt this report without amendments it will save the Mau. Our fears are that it will only be used to victimise people,” he said.

Mr Ruto called on Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim to rule if Parliament should continue debate on the contentious report.

“Should we be debating an executive summary, which only has the chairman’s signature while we know that the genuine taskforce report was signed by the 12 members?” he posed.

Mr Maalim said the Speaker would be making the ruling next Tuesday when Parliament resumes sittings.
Deputy Speaker had a hectic time maintaining order during the two-hour debate. At one point Mr Ruto and National Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama clashed after they accused each other of owning parcels of land in the water tower.

An agitated Mr Ntimama accused Mr Ruto of hiving of forest land and distributing it to his Chepalungu constitutes.

“You are the one who took land and gave it to you constituents and now you are afraid that they will come back and live on your farm and I promise you that they will!”

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Most contributions concentrated on resettlement, compensation of settlers in the forest and how the government would raise funds for the Mau the rehabilitation.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua said the government must commit itself to implementing the report and urged them to develop a Social Justice Act to guide future resettlements.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told off North Rift MPs whom he said had trivialised the issue saying the matter had taken international dimension with states such as Egypt, Sudan and Tanzania voicing concerns over the slow government action in restoring and rehabilitating the Mau Complex.
Nominated MPs Racheal Shebesh and Amina Abdalla as well as Lamu West MP Fahim Twaha said the government was focusing too much on evictions as opposed to resettlements.

Mr Twaha said: “We should handle this matter with caution because once you say that the title deeds have no value then the value of land across the country will plummet, so government must strike a balance.”

Ms Shebesh who is also the Chairperson of an Africa Parliamentarians Group on Climate Change said Kenya should use the Copenhagen meeting to sell its rehabilitation and conservation plans. 

Mr Wetangula informed the House that Africa had chosen Ethiopia PM Meles Zenawi as the team leader to the conference where he will demand that Western countries give 3.6 percent of their GDP to the initiative to afforest Africa.

Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchellah said the death of the Mau could signify an end for the Maasai people who have been the face of Kenya’s tourism.
“Most conflicts and wars are brought by scarcity of water, I urge you to act,” he said.

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