, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 4 – Hours before a Secretariat formed to oversee the restoration of the Mau complex was launched, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai has dismissed it as of little significance.
The world-famous environmentalist held that the Secretariat was a political move and a ploy by the government to buy time and divert attention from the Mau evictions.
“The (secretariat) should tell the Prime Minister, ‘you do not need a committee, you have had a committee before, you have all the data you need to make a decision’. The only reason you are not making a decision now is because you are under pressure from your political friends,” she said.
Prof Maathai added that the government should put the lives of Kenyans first and stop holding citizens at ransom.
“And the question is now; who comes first, the friends or the country?” she posed.
The Nobel Laureate called on Kenyan leaders to stop succumbing to political pressure holding that they should deal with the Mau issue and stop focusing on winning the 2012 general elections.
“That is not what you expect from leadership; in leadership you have to make tough, sometimes painful decisions in order to save the country.”
She also explained that the Mau forest would start recovering from the damage caused by human invasion, if the settlers were evicted.
“The Kenyan government should start looking for long term solutions to avert future threats and crises. Once forests are left alone, they can very quickly start to regenerate on their own. But as long as there are people there, digging, burning charcoal, grazing; these forests will never recover!” she insisted.
Prof Maathai argued that the government’s inaction on the Mau and other environmental issues reflected negatively not only on Kenya but on the African continent as a whole.
“It is extremely important that politicians in Kenya realize that we are focused on as a country. People will judge us on what we do rather than what we say,” she explained.
Prof Maathai also faulted the government’s preparation for the expected El nino rains.
“We are expecting these rains but what has the government done to prepare the farmers?”
“Has it prepared any water storage facilities, have they cleared the silt-filled dams?” she charged.
Danish ambassador to Kenya Bo Jensen echoed Prof Maathai’s sentiments explaining that Kenya should prepare itself for the climatic changes being experienced the world over.
“We can only blame the floods and droughts in the world on the climatic changes that the world is experiencing. The Kenyan government should brace itself for the effects that these changes will bear on Kenya.”
He also noted that Kenya should trivialise the environment at its own peril, and explained that the Mau issue should be resolved.