NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 12 – The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Monday stepped up its campaign for a Yes vote at the constitution referendum, with Secretary General Prof Anyang Nyongo moving to dispel concerns raised on four contentious issues.
On Land, Prof Nyongo said the draft seeks to introduce far-reaching reforms that will pave way for the permanent resolution of Kenya\’s perennial land problems and redress historical injustices
“If the current legal frame work land is under the President and the Commissioner of Lands alone; it is those two individuals who make decisions on land and they have done so since independence to the detriment of the interests of Kenyans in general. The (proposed) constitution (stipulates) very clearly conditions under which the government can intervene in the matter of public land and its use,” said the ODM spokesman.
Under the proposed constitution the function of allocation of land has been vested in the National Land Commission. ODM said that land ownership has not been restricted in the proposed constitution adding that title deeds would continue to be sacrosanct.
Prof Nyongo said those who acquired land legally and legitimately would continue to be protected but said the document would enable the government to reclaim grabbed public land.
“However, those who stole public land will have to explain why the public should not get back its land. Also those who have more than 100,000 hectares of land or own the size of provinces yet they are not engaged in productive activities with such huge holdings will have to forfeit such unproductive public land or pay land duty on them,” he explained.
He urged religious groups to stop confusing Kenyans on issues of Kadhis court and abortion.
“If the religious leaders want to reject the constitution we are telling them that let’s meet out there where we will both compete in convincing the voters to vote Yes or No.”
On devolution he said that the party was forced to back down from the three-tier governance structure with a strong Senate after the political horse-trading in the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution review led to its deletion in favour of the two-tier system..
“The few selfish politicians singing No are the same ones who deleted the three-tier devolution. They want us to revert to the current system without devolution,” he said.
Agriculture minister and ODM Deputy Party Leader William Ruto has vowed to oppose the draft constitution if some amendments are not effected. He is pushing for regional governments and amendments to the Land Chapter.