MPs to probe conflict at Banita scheme

September 26, 2012 3:47 pm


Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale initiated the Motion saying the situation in the scheme was of serious concern to national security/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 26 – Parliament has approved a Motion to establish a 15-member Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to investigate insecurity at the Banita Resettlement Scheme in Nakuru County.

Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale initiated the Motion saying the situation in the scheme was of serious concern to national security. MPs agreed that the matter was sensitive and could trigger ethnic conflict, especially in the run-up to the general elections.

“Whenever there is this violence let’s be honest it does not start with the ordinary wananchi, they are often are guided. I would appeal to the PSC not to spare anybody and to tell us which leaders have been instigating the public in this area,” Mathira MP Ephraim Maina said when contributing to the debate.

Banita experienced skirmishes in August when four people sustained injuries from arrows after a group of youths attacked mourners during a funeral at the disputed settlement.

Accusations have been traded between the provincial administration and local leaders over the cause of the chaos. Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Osman Warfa said that their investigations had shown that the goings on at Banita were being fuelled by a politician.

However, MPs Luka Kigen (Rongai) and Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi) have accused the provincial administration of siding with one side in the conflict.

The land in dispute was bought by the government from a foreign farmer and later distributed to squatters and post-election violence victims.

Another group later claimed entitlement to the same farm and has since been obstructing the other community from using it.

Khalwale told Parliament in August how his niece, who is a District Commissioner, was forced to leave her area of work by her seniors who deemed her to be ‘protecting the local community.’

Kigen however moved an amendment to remove Molo MP Joseph Kiuna from the PSC, raising temperatures in the House as some MPs claimed there was an attempt to sway the report a certain way.

Kigen had sought to remove the names of Mutava Musyimi (Gachoka) and Kiuna from the list and replace them with Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central), Julius Kones (Konoin) and Cheruiyot (Kuresoi)

He explained that the trio ‘had a direct interest in the matter since most of the people who will be settled there were coming from their areas.

But MPs forced him to reinstate the name of Kiuna with Tigania East MP Peter Munya saying that it was illogical to remove Kiuna’s name yet he also comes from area.

“Is this an attempt to tilt a report of Parliament in a certain way by removing a member who may have crucial information relating to the settlement scheme?” asked Munya.

But MPs Cheruiyot and Mwita sought to explain that the Banita issue arose in 2003 after the newly elected Narc government substituted a list of original squatters and settled in new persons.

“I urge the PSC to look at all these allocations from 2003, because land to a Kenyan is what security is to an Israeli,” said Mwita, a former Commissioner of Lands during the President Moi regime.


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