NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 1 – The National Land Commission (NLC) Taskforce on Historical Land Injustices on Monday pledged to have the final word on the matter.
Taskforce Chairman Samuel Tororei said they would provide the “closure” that previous bodies constituted over the injustices did not.
He explained that unlike its predecessors, the NLC taskforce had been mandated to create an, “implementation matrix,” that would be enshrined in law.
The taskforce is charged to define what qualifies as a historical land injustice, “past and present,” specify what form restitution for the victims should take and penalties for perpetrators of these injustices.
Section 15 of the National Land Commission Act mandating the commission to, “within two years of its appointment, recommend to Parliament appropriate legislation to provide for the investigation and adjudication of claims arising out of historical land injustices.”
That being said, the taskforce – Vice-Chair Amina Hashi said – would incorporate aspects of previous reports given the short amount of time they are working with, having been gazetted in May and having until February 2015 to have the legislation ready.
“Some of us have read the TJRC report so many times we can recite it from memory,” she testified.
But even given the limited time they are working with, Hashi said the commission was committed to having a draft bill out by the end of December. “The law allows us to ask for an extension but we are keen to work within the time frame accorded to us,” she said.
As with its predecessors, the taskforce is also set to commence a national tour collecting views from Kenyans this month, “but unlike other times, we are not collecting information on historical land injustices. We are asking Kenyans for their input on how they think they should be resolved. Besides, it’s a legal imperative,” taskforce member and former Permanent Secretary Gichira Kibara explained.
And as it undertakes to formulate a framework on how historical land injustices should be addressed, “once and for all,” Kenya Editors’ Guild Chairman Linus Kaikai called on the taskforce to undertake an honest exercise and not hide behind the guise of keeping the peace as has previously been the case.
“This country has paid a great price because of pretence at national cohesion, unity and peace. What you are working at is the achievement of that. Do not be told that it’s more about sustaining it. Someone said peace is not the absence of war. There isn’t peace in this country as far as the land issue is concerned. Let’s be frank and fair,” he challenged.
In response to which NLC Vice-Chair Abigail Mbagaya assured that the Commission was committed to land reform despite limited resources, resistance and a large number of complaints, “but remember, it’s a process, not an event,” she said.