NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – A month after its gazettement, the National Land Commission says it will correct the historical injustices that have bedevilled Kenya for the last 50 years.
The commission’s chairman Mohammed Swazuri however acknowledges that it will not be an easy task and adds that they are not looking to victimise anyone.
“We are not a witch-hunting commission. We are here by the mandate of the people. Therefore, we cannot go outside that mandate or go and try to punish people. It’s not supposed to be a punitive commission.”
Swazuri says their greatest challenge will be to manage the great expectations Kenyans have but he is optimistic the commission will not disappoint Kenyans.
“Our greatest challenge, which I think we can manage is the very high expectations of Kenyans but as time goes by, as we implement our mandate, I think we shall bring down the temperatures once the people see that major issues are being addressed.”
Swazuri says one of their first orders of business will be to constitute the County Land Management Boards once the governors are sworn in. The boards will be the first port of call for citizens with complaints to bring before the commission.
“In preparation for the establishment of County Land Management Boards under Section 18 of the National Land Commission Act, and while awaiting the assumption of office by county governors on March 27, 2013, the National Land Commission is preparing regulations for the operation of the said boards.”
The commission boss says they are also urgently seeking offices outside the Ministry of Lands so that Kenyans do not think they are one and the same entity.
“The commission is temporarily housed in Ardhi house but it is looking for a more permanent location to establish its headquarters.”
The commission has already put out an advert for the post of a commission secretary and staff of the various land departments the commission will be taking over will be taken through a vetting process within the next three weeks.
Tasks such as delineating public, community and private land, Swazuri says, will be done in the longer term, “Mapping all the land is a phased issue and you cannot do it today even if you wanted.”
Civil Society groups including the Kenya Land Alliance (KLA) have pledged their support to the commission with the KLA National Co-ordinator Lumumba Odenda calling on the government to allocate the commission ten percent of the annual national budget.
“The National Land Commission is unlike any other commission. They are a commission which is pivotal to the unity of our country.”
Swazuri however states that the Sh120 million allocated to them for the next three months is sufficient for them to carry out their mandate but he is unsure how much they will receive in the next financial year given they were formally constituted past the deadline for the submission of projected budgets by public service bodies.
“If somebody gives us 20 percent of the budget we will be happy because it will make our operations better. But as you know in economics they say resources are never enough.”