Capital FM (Nairobi)

7 February 2013

Kenya: Anxiety Mounts Over Land Commission

Nairobi — The Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) now wants President Mwai Kibaki to move with speed to gazette the chairperson and members of the National Land Commission.

ISK chairman Collins Kowuor says that that many of the laws dealing with land reforms have been passed and need to be implemented.

He says that the commission will be integral in the process and needs to be immediately made functional.

"The solutions to land problems in the country have been provided in the constitution and the substantive land laws and all the institutions necessary for the implementation of the provisions in the land policy need to be operationalised. The chairman and the commissioners need to be immediately gazetted," he said.

"The High Court ruling on this matter should be obeyed. In this respect the Ministry of Lands, the National Assembly have done their job and the Office of the President has to do its part," he emphasised at news conference on Thursday.

The High Court had on Monday directed President Mwai Kibaki to gazette members of the National Land Commission within the next seven days.

Justice David Majanja ruled that the grounds raised by the Attorney General justifying the delay in gazetting the commissioners had no basis.

He said that the president's failure to gazette the nine members was causing unnecessary panic and public anxiety.

The AG had defended the delay, arguing that the president was waiting for the establishment of County Land Management Boards before gazetting the commissioners.

The court ruled that the delay in operationalisation of such a key institution in land reforms could not be allowed to go on given the history of Kenya where the emotive issue of land had resulted in to loss of lives.

He ruled that failure to finalise the appointment of the commissioners undercut the value of good governance as the body charged with instituting land reforms had been clouded in uncertainty for long periods.

The petition to compel the president to gazette the commissioners was filed by citizens Thomas Amoni and Mohammed Shamsa who argued that the delay was hampering the much anticipated land reforms.

Parliament in August last year approved nominees to the commission led by Chairman Mohammed Swazuri.

The commissioners are: 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.

Kowuor insists that comments by politicians on land are a recipe for derailing meaningful reforms as they do not enhance the existing legal framework for land reforms.

"As professionals, the aspect that we want addressed is providing a framework that is sustainable and that framework can only be legal. We have witnessed disturbing comments on land by politicians on the campaign trail but they are potential pull backs," cautioned Kowuor.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the National Police Service have also urged politicians to trade carefully on the land issue to avoid whipping up emotions.

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