By Beauttah Omanga
The next one-week will be crucial to Prime Minister Raila Odinga to either redeem his dwindling support in the South Rift or lose it further depending on how the Mau evictees’ resettlement is finalised.
Pushed to the wall by his own lieutenants in the region led by Roads Minister Franklin Bett and Assistant Minister Magerer Langat, Raila in a meeting with South Rift leaders announced that all the evictees would be resettled by the end of this week.
But it has now emerged that leaders in areas identified for resettlement have vowed to stop the evictees from occupying the land.
Surprisingly, the resistance is said to be spearheaded by members of Raila’s ODM party.
While Bett and Magerer announced with enthusiasm that finally the evictees would be resettled in parcels in Nakuru and Kericho counties, East African Community Minister Musa Sirma led a section of residents in Nakuru area in vowing never to allow outsiders to be settled in the area before landless locals were considered.
As far as Raila is concerned a deal had been struck to resettle 500 families on the 3,000-acre Majani Mingi farm in Rongai. While the PM acted to forestall a potential falling out with his key allies, Sirma, who is an ODM minister, is now frustrating his efforts.
Resigned from committee
Two weeks ago, all the four MPs drawn from the South Rift, including Bett, Magerer, Beatrice Kones and Joyce Laboso resigned from an ad hoc committee formed by the PM to oversee the Mau resettlement with threats to reconsider their association with the party if Mau evictees were not resettled.
The leaders accused the PM’s office of failing to act as per his earlier promises together with Lands Minister James Orengo.
Fearing that the MPs were about to bolt out, sources said Raila quickly organised a meeting between the four MPs and some elders to seek a compromise on the Mau issue. It was at that meeting that the PM promised to have the issue concluded.
The MPs went to Kericho County to announce that a solution had been found and the evictees would be resettled. But a day later Sirma presided over a meeting where Rongai residents vowed to oppose the planned resettlement until they were also given land.