, MOMBASA, Kenya, Nov 19 – Lands Minister James Orengo has hailed the harmonised draft Constitution saying it complements recommendations of the National Land policy, whose debate is due to commence in Parliament on Thursday.
He expressed confidence that the policy would sail through Parliament, having already been passed by the Cabinet. Mr Orengo argued that unlike some issues in the draft constitution, land did not emerge as one of the contentious issues and does not see it playing a major role during public debate.
“Land, which is normally a big issue, was not identified by Wako, Bomas (or) the Committee of Experts as a contentious issue. I therefore see no problems there,” he said.
Mr Orengo disagreed with claims that both the policy and draft constitution would undermine people’s rights to own land. On the contrary, he says, it strives to protect those rights as well as make land accessible to all citizens.
“The policy contains proposals that will transform land use, channeling efforts towards more sustainable development,” he said adding it providing a sound framework for dealing with development land use.
Elsewhere, Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo urged Kenyans to engage in constructive debates that would improve on the harmonised draft constitution.
Speaking to delegates attending the 50th annual conference of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Mr Kilonzo said the draft should not be rejected in its entirety.
“Rejecting the draft constitution means we are voting for the current constitution and that simply means you are supporting the atrocities that occurred during the election period,” he said.
He called upon ICJ and the civil society to actively and honestly engage in the debate in order for the realisation of a new constitution.
Seperately, the Catholic Justice and Peace Committee urged all Christians to engage with the process.
“We should read the document, discuss and share it. By knowing what is in the document we empower ourselves to make enlightened decisions. We should also take up the responsibility of empowering others to make informed choices,” Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth said in a statement.
The church also urged Kenyans to pay special attention to the Bill of Rights saying it is an important foundation of how we relate to each other and to the state.
“We urge you to share your thoughts, either directly with the Committee of Experts or through CJPC. Remember the window of opportunity is only 30 days according to the Law to read and submit you views. Kenyans, this is your time, stand up and let your voices be heard.”