Naivasha retreat touches raw land nerve

January 26, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, January 26 – The Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) has faulted the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review (PSC) for editing the Land Chapter in the revised Harmonised Draft Constitution.

Chairman Mwenda Makathimo said on Tuesday that the move undermined the progress made towards the quest for positive land reforms in the country.

He further argued that the land chapter was not categorised among the contentious issues and as such should not have been discussed.

“The Lancaster Constitution failed to address the land issue; it agreed to maintain the status quo and protect the rights of the colonial people. If the PSC goes ahead and replicates Lancaster, then it is not reforms. The constitution will be worth nothing to the ordinary Kenyans,” he stressed.

Mr Makathimo said deleting a clause that created the National Land Commission (NLC) from the draft Constitution took the country back to the era of excessive powers vested on the President.

He described the NLC as a governance tool which prevented the Executive from abuse of land administration and management processes.

He now wants the Parliamentary Select committee to revise its recommendation on land issues failure to which all land stakeholders will once again begin lobbying for change.

“We will write a variety of memoranda and send them to all the leaders; the Prime Minister, the President even the lead negotiator Kofi Annan,” vowed the ISK boss.

“We will even take it to all those who support us and our cause including the reference group for the Constitution.”

The ISK chairman described the decision by the PSC as an indication that the members do not appreciate the emotive nature of land and its ability to create social tension if not well administered and managed.

The Parliamentary Select Committee was yesterday reported to have deleted a section in the revised draft establishing a National Lands Commission. The MPs are said to have taken the action because of the anticipated laws that will follow the National Land Policy, which was adopted by Parliament in December.

All references to community land are also said to have been removed from the draft.

Under the National Land Policy, all land laws will be consolidated and a National Land Commission set up to be the custodian of public land and to administer all land across the country.

The government has also been given the green light to reduce the controversial colonial 999-year leases to 99 years, which has been fiercely opposed by beneficiaries.

Similar provisions are provided for in the draft being reviewed by MPs in Naivasha. The document proposes that the National Land Commission manage public land on behalf of the national and devolved governments.


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