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Maathai blames Kenyans for Mau impunity

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 17 – Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai has now shifted blame to Kenyans over the recent controversial vote in Parliament that obligated the government to compensate all land owners in the Mau Forest.

Prof Maathai says the electorate has failed to demand accountability from their leaders, thereby promoting impunity.

“Kenyans don’t fight back; remember the Kenya government does not have money, it’s your taxes. So if they don’t have taxes they will ask the World Bank to give them money to come and compensate leaders who misused their power (to acquire) land they should never have acquired,” said the former legislator.

Terming the compensation ‘selfish and misplaced’, Ms Maathai held that politicians should stop gambling with the country’s future.

She added: “I hope when they go to the World Bank they won’t get any money. The only reason why we are being held hostage with the Mau is because people who were in power want to be compensated.”

Prof Maathai also observed that Kenya’s tea and coffee which have for long been marketed as the main Kenyan cash crops would be lost if the government failed to conserve and maintain forests.

“Our people need to understand that unless they protect these forests, one day the areas where they grow tea and coffee will be too warm for these crops to grow,” she justified.

She warned of significant economic losses if the forest depletion continued.

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“70 percent of our people live in these forested mountains that we talk about; many of them are involved in small scale farming of tea and coffee,” she said.

She also alleged that the government was still cutting down trees on road reserves despite the government’s spokesman and the Ministry of Roads denial of the act.

Prof Maathai was of the opinion that the government should study which tree species are friendly to constructions.

“For example the Nairobi fern usually digs through roads and buildings. It is not friendly to constructions,” said the Nobel Laureate.

The professor suggested that the government should encourage Kenyans to plant trees along stretches of land set aside for expansion of roads as they would stop soil erosion.

“I wish we could adopt the culture of planting trees along the road. It would hold the soil, protect the road and give us an opportunity to maintain the biodiversity in the country.”

She was speaking during a tour to the Aberdares organised by the Green Belt Movement and the World Bank.

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