THE LANDQUESTION; IN ESSENCE, WHAT IS IT IN LAND THAT MAKES IT SO PRECIOUS?By Mungai.

Since the time we started drafting a new constitution, the subject of land equation was earmarked as one item which would prove to be a major contentious issue. The issue of land ownership has all along been a major drawback and a headache to the republic of Kenya. To the draft constitution, the land question still remains a puzzle and a potential threat.

According to political observers, the land issue has all along been the bone of contention which has been aggravating the eruption of tribal violence for over the years. It was also cited as one of the contributing factor during the post election violence. in total contrast, the Wako draft constitution which was resound rejected and defeated in the year 2005 referendum faced its wrath and fate due to this underlying question of land. And this time round the same issue was just cropped up.

So serious is this question of land that most court cases which are been filled 80% of them concerns this issue. And Sit’s not a wonder that most lives are been lost and million of resources used in trying to resolve this intricate web of land related issues.

But in matters of introspective where did the rain start hitting us in regard to this land issue? In essence, what is it in land that makes it so precious?

Our country started grapping with this intricate web of land equation right from the colonial times and after we attained independence. The white colonial settlers grabbed and allocated themselves the viable, fertile cultural lands of different communities at the expense of the indigenous Kenyans, while they were trying to establish their imperial colonialism.

After the attainment of independence some well connected individuals allocated themselves these prime land irregularly which were occupied by the white farmers without considering and in total disregard of other poor Kenyans. Such was the extent of this land equation as time went by, it was apparent that few individuals owned huge chunks of land which were strategically placed and economically viable while other people were squareters at their own country.

A case in point remains as a showcase of how a few clique individuals who owns huge chunks of land big enough to be a constituency or more. Also a case story in point is been told of how a former powerful administrator over flew in the Rift Valley earmarking the land he wanted and after he had done that the affected people were relocated and evicted from their land without justification.

Hence putting into consideration all these it does not make sense to lock out successive generations of people from food production and other economic activities by having the most productive land in the hands of just a few individuals. While in the other scenarios is whereby a majority of Kenya are forced to subdivide their land into economically unviable parcels or live as squarters also doesn’t make sense.

After we attained independence, different successive Government didn’t correct, sort out and resolve this land equation anomaly which haunted our country .But contrary they continued to aggravate it under the carpet the land was turned into a political tool for rewarding the powerful political elites, barons and loyalties. If you had the connections to the political power, a sympathizer or had influence with the government of the day when chances were that most of these individuals manipulated the system to own and grab the Go0vornments land.

Despite the establishment of various commissions and reports to correct and address these land anomalies, they have already hit a snag. The Ndung’us land commission which was the recent one in 2003, had addressed and outlined all the key issues pertaining to the resolving of the land problem also hit the dead end. The commissions report was met with a stiff challenge thus it was shelved.

But why is it that the matter of land always goes to the parallel and draws quarrels? And why is it that it is a hot issue in the draft constitution?

This land question will prove to be the subject of concentricity in the referendum if it will not be addressed fully. Most of the Rift Valley members of parliament have objected to the draft constitution. These leaders are wary of section 68(c) (1) of the draft constitution that requires parliament to enact legislation to enable reviews of all grants or disposition of public land to establish their propriety or legality. It also requires parliament to prescribe minimum and maximum land holding. Absent land lords with idle lands are been barred as owning idle land serves no purpose in economic development.

The effects of such legislation will protect the public against the bourgeoisies who thrive on land grabbing and the people who were allocated land illegally might be required to surrender it to the government.

The chapter which borrows heavly from the national land policy adapted last year proposes radical reforms meant to ensure fair access to land. It also seeks to correct long standing injustice that have in the past seen people with connections grab land hence rendering a large section of the population squatters. To guard against possible abuse in future the draft transfers crucial administrative responsibilities to an independent national land commission from a manipulative commi9ssioner of lands. The draft also strips off the president powers to allocate land.

It also bars non-Kenyans from owing freehold land and restricts them to leases of 99years.

As we trends in this delicate phrase, its now apparent that a clique of leaders are captives of status quo.Although every person is entitled to his or her own opinion, we should take into account the fact that there is no constitution that is perfect. Leaders must at all times endeveavor to show exemplary leadership and avoid mis-information.This is the time Kenyans are going to judge true leaders from pretenders.


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