Nairobi — The Land Sector Non-State Actors lobby group has petitioned President Mwai Kibaki to urgently appoint the National Land Commission.
The group's Executive Officer Odenda Lumumba said the land commission should be in place not later than Wednesday, which coincides with the nation's 49th independence anniversary, to deal with land issues including double allocation, absentee land lords and allocation to investors.
The Civil society has questioned why the principals had delayed the appointment of the crucial commission, yet a case blocking the move, was dismissed in court.
Participants cited the slow pace of implementation of land reforms and lack of political goodwill, as some of the main challenges facing land reforms implementation in the country.
"We directly seize the sovereignty of the people to demand that the President does the honourable thing, to finalise the appointment of the commissioners by gazetting them. Short of that we are going to resort to the Supreme Court to adjudicate on this matter as a constitutional matter to show cause why the president can commit an act of omission in matters of extreme importance of land in this country," said Lumumba.
Although Parliament approved the names of nine members to serve in the Commission in August, the President has not made the appointments.
There is suspicion among stakeholders that some powerful individuals were behind the delay that has stalled the land reforms.
Acting Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia had earlier stated that the delay was caused by a court injunction.
"This is to inform you that as much as the issue of Land Commission has undergone various processes, there is still a court injunction that prevents the gazettement and this office is awaiting new orders (if any)." Kimemia had stated in a letter to the commission.
Last month, the High Court dismissed an application seeking to block the team from assuming office.
The petitioners had claimed in court that the composition of the team infringed on their fundamental rights and freedom.
But in his ruling, High Court Judge David Majanja said he did not find any breach of the petitioners' rights.
"The politicians are always passionate when they are talking about their perks in Parliament, but why are they silent when it comes to the President delaying to appoint this crucial commission," said Waso Trust Land executive officer Hassan Shano.
"The pastoralists have been the victims of land grabbing and we have many examples of it, from Laikipia Ranches, Mosiro, Lodariak, Ilkisumeti, Ewaso Kedong', and Suswa, which have come to represent 'cases' more than Maasai locations or group ranches," said Ratibo Lekuyana, a pastoralist from Narok County.
"The only Commission to solve this problem is the NLC," he added
The nine nominees cleared by Parliament were Mohammed Swazuri as chairman), Tomiik Mboya Konyimbih, Silas Kinoti Muriithi, Rose Mumbua Musyoka, Samuel Kipng'etich Tororei, Abigael Mbagaya, Emma Muthoni Njogu, Clement Isaiah Lenachuru and Abdulkadir Adan Khalif.
The NLC is tasked with managing public land on behalf of the national and county governments, recommending a national land policy to the State and advising it on a comprehensive programme for the registration of titles throughout the country.
It is also mandated with conducting research related to land and the use of natural resources and to make recommendations to appropriate authorities among others.