NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – The National Civil Society Congress has accused the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) of trying to gag debate on historical injustices relating to land.
Maurice Odhiambo, the president of the congress, says political aspirants should be allowed to discuss the land issue but steer clear of name calling.
“The land issue is a legitimate campaign issue but we want to have clarity in terms of what the presidential candidates are saying.”
“The name calling fudges issues. The name calling sort of hides the issues we want to hear from the politicians.”
The section of civil society leaders also demanded to know why the land commission is yet to be gazetted and why the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report has been delayed.
A member of the congress, Suba Churchill, has accused the government of causing the delays to protect individual interests.
“The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission is yet to conclude its work. In fact, those who are telling us not to discuss land issues could be the very people behind the delays in the release of the report.”
“Let anybody with a vested interest who does not want the land commission in place tell the public why they are holding on to the gazettement of the National Land Commission because it is until we are prepared to face this issues head on that we will be able to resolve them.”
Churchill also accused the politicians trading blame on the land issue of being equally culpable.
“What we do not want is anybody to use the land debate as an effort to smear others dirty in the hope that they remain clean.”
The chairman of the NCIC, Mzalendo Kibunjia, on Monday censured politicians for using the land issue as a campaign tool saying that it could lead to a repeat of the violence that followed the last general election.
“We must not accept leaders who incite us on the basis of historical injustices that we have agreed as a nation and even formed institutions to resolve them.”
“None of them can resolve those issues in a month’s time so why are you inciting us on issues that you cannot resolve. Something like that which is raw… which is very emotional and you want to use it? I don’t think you being fair to Kenyans.”
Churchill took issue with Kibunjia’s sentiments saying that the land issue has been emotive since independence and that it should not be used as a reason to stop Kenyans from debating it, “Somebody wants us to believe that almost fifty years after independence the land issue is still too emotive to be discussed.”
“If we are to live in artificial peace as Commissioner Kibunjia would want us to do, that is the best example of how not to ensure national integrity and cohesion. This is not a primary school classroom where the head teacher orders everybody to keep quiet.”