, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – Former National Assembly Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo has joined the ‘No’ bandwagon ahead of the upcoming Constitution referendum.
Mr Kaparo who was speaking after closing a National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) workshop on Friday said the Lands Chapter in the draft was unfair as it changed ownership from freehold to leasehold forcing current land owners to start paying land rates to the government.
“When you remove the freehold of land belonging to peasants in Nyeri and make it leasehold you are in fact taking that land away from the individual to the State and that it is unlawful. Removing group ranches and putting all those acreage limits without taking into account the productivity of the land is wrong,” he said.
Mr Kaparo added that in the event the country passed the proposed Constitution the government would be required to compensate all land owners. He explained that the government could not take away private land without buying it from its rightful owners.
“You cannot ignore two-thirds of the mass that owns land in this country and say that they don’t matter,” he argued.
He also said that the draft contradicted itself as it purposed to respect human rights while at the same time allowing the sidelining of minorities.
“In the Bill of Rights it purports to give voice and rights to the minorities but in Representation it takes away what they already have by imposing on it a heavy population so that in five or six years probably half of the existing parliamentary seats for arid Kenya will disappear. It will marginalise the already marginalised people,” he said.
Further, Mr Kaparo warned Kenyans against segregating the minorities as it posed a threat to their existence, “There is no fun and no safety in the principle of exclusion. Do not exclude any sections of this society in the mainstream governance. Do so at your peril,” he cautioned.
Asked why he was speaking out against the draft at this stage of the review process, the former head of the Legislature said he already forwarded his concerns to the Committee of Experts (CoE). He also asserted that Parliamentarians had their own selfish interests when proposing amendments to the draft.
“All these presentations have been made to the CoE; some were made in Parliament – you saw the attempts but it ended up being a circus that nobody was serious about,” he said.
He also invalidated the draft’s devolution proposal saying it made no difference. He said that the constitution (if passed) would simply drop provinces and switch them to counties.
“I don’t even think there is devolution; we are just going back to the ‘almost’ original districts and then giving them a grand name but there is no difference. You have a very powerful president at the center and absolutely no devolution,” he said.