NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – The thorny issue of resettling Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) featured during Monday night’s presidential debate, as PM Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta traded accusations over which ministry should be blamed for delaying the resettlement.
Whereas the Jubilee presidential candidate blamed the Ministry of Lands which is headed by a member of Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, the PM blamed the Special Programmes and Finance dockets, which Kenyatta and his allies held.
“The truth is that those involved are the Finance, Office of the President, Land, Agriculture and Special Programmes Ministries. But it is because money was not released by the Finance Ministry that is why they were not resettled,” Odinga charged.
Kenyatta on the other hand said he allocated money to resettle the IDPs when he was Finance Minister but due to disagreements among the ministries involved, the IDPs were not resettled.
“When I left the Finance Ministry last year, there was money… about Sh2 billion in the resettlement fund. It had stayed for more than one year unused. This means it is not lack of money that weakened the resettlement process but disagreements over where to buy land, which land to buy; this squarely lies in the Ministry of Lands,” Kenyatta retorted.
Resettlement of IDPs in Kenya remains a prickly issue due to growing numbers of people displaced not just after the post election violence but also people being ejected from public or private land.
“The government tried to sort it and it is not easy because there are some people displaced due to violence and after calm they returned but there are others who fear to return because of fear of recurrence of violence. There are others who never owned land at all,” Odinga said.
Peter Kenneth of the Kenya National Congress pledged to deal with the issue of IDPs within the first 100 days in office though United Democratic Forum’s flag bearer Musalia Mudavadi told him it was impossible to tackle the matter within such a short period.
Kenneth however retracted his statement and said that he meant that he will streamline the ministries involved within 100 days.
Restore and Build Kenya presidential candidate James ole Kiyiapi on his part pointed fingers at the way money meant for IDPs was mishandled pledging to deal with corruption which he blamed for the unsuccessful resettlement of the displaced persons.
Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua also shared the same sentiments that corruption was the major impediment to resettlement of displaced persons. “There is graft in the resettlement bid. Some elements in the government have taken advantage of the situation to enrich themselves.”
She said she will ensure there will be peace and security for land ownership if elected to be president.
Alliance for Real Change candidate Mohamed Abduba Dida who never fails to tickle the audience regretted that money was returned to the Treasury due to selfish interests worsened by greedy leaders.
“The problem is not money. There is money but it’s being misappropriated. We are human beings but most of us are animals in nature,” he asserted as he pledged to address animosity among communities as a key intervention in avoiding displacement of people.
Safina’s Paul Muite also pledged to resettle displaced persons by addressing historical injustices and uncovering other issues that led evictions of people from their land they occupied before.
After the 2008 post-election violence over 650,000 people were displaced and five years down the line, some are still living in camps or with their relatives.