, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 25 – Jubilee Alliance presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta has admitted his family owns 30,000 acres of land in Taita Taveta County.
Kenyatta, who had earlier tactfully sidestepped a challenge by debate co-moderator Joe Ageyo to declare the total acreage owned by the Kenyatta family, gave in to the question after prodding by his rival from Narc-Kenya.
Martha Karua had charged that the Kenyatta family was among the three largest land owners in the county. She listed former Taveta MP Basil Criticos and the Kenya Wildlife Service as the others.
It is at this stage that Kenyatta declared that they own 30,000 acres and had recently “donated 4,000 acres to settle squatters,” but added other land owners in the district involve several other ranchers.
Kenyatta was however insistent that neither he nor his family have ever been cited for illegal land acquisition.
He stated that the land the Kenyattas own was acquired through “willing buyer-willing-seller basis.”
“My family and I own land; we’ve not acquired land illegally but through willing buyer-willing seller basis. There is nothing to prove that my family has illegally acquired land.”
The Jubilee candidate had earlier dared his rival presidential contenders to provide evidence to back their claims that he irregularly acquired public or community land.
His opponents led by CORD’s Raila Odinga and Karua have focussed on the land issue in their campaigns.
Karua was first to fire a salvo after she claimed that those whose families own large tracts of land may not be best placed to handle land issues.
But in his rejoinder, Kenyatta said: “I am keen for Karua to take me to the land I am alleged to own so that I can start doing something about.”
Kenyatta said he had religiously filed his wealth declaration and anyone with any queries over the land he owns should make an inquiry from the Speaker’s office.
He contended that the land issue had not been handled professionally, but the Jubilee Alliance has a plan of tackling the land problem.
“When the question of the largest land owners in Kenya was raised in Parliament, my name and that of my family never featured,” Kenyatta affirmed.
He took on Odinga, saying as Prime Minister he failed to address land reforms despite his side of the government having control of the Lands Ministry docket.
Alliance for Real Change candidate Mohammed Dida armed with a newspaper article, questioned whether Kenyatta could lead land reforms while farmers in his ancestral Kiambu District were asking the Deputy Prime Minister to surrender the idle land his family owns.
“How will Uhuru deal with land nationally if people from his home in Kiambu are complaining?” posed Dida.
Kenyatta said that land was emotive and that Kenyans should have confidence in the newly created National Land Commission that will bring a solution to the land question.
When the going got tough Kenyatta found a “brother” in most unlikely quarters, when the Prime Minister stepped in to say that the Jubilee Alliance leader was a victim of his past.
“Uhuru Kenyatta was an innocent inheritor. He did not commit the original sin. Kenyans should sympathise with him,” Odinga opined.