President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA flag-bearer Raila Odinga are once again caught up in the sensitive land debate like in 2013.
Raila kicked off the debate in Kajiado last week with remarks warning the Maasai to stop reckless sale of their ancestral land.
But the Jubilee team led by Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, jumped into the debate, accusing Raila of inciting the Maasai against non-Maasai who had bought land in the region.
Thereafter, leaflets warning non-Maasai appeared as Jubilee leaders called for the arrest and prosecution of Raila.
But speaking yesterday at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi after Jubilee demanded that he be investigated for alleged inflammatory statements, the NASA flag-bearer said the law enacted by Jubilee on land matters was a mockery of the land rights of marginalised communities.
“Jubilee has refused to enact proper laws to protect community lands. Article 63 required Parliament to enact legislation to give effect to the Article 63, which states that community land shall not be disposed of or otherwise used except in terms of legislation specifying the nature and extent of the rights of members of each community individually and collectively,” Raila said.
He added: “The Community Lands Act No. 27 of 2016 placed the powers over community lands in the hands of the Cabinet Secretary for Lands of the national government and totally downplayed the roles of county governments and the National Land Commission in administration of Community Lands.”
He said he never incited the Maasai against the rest of Kenyans but was speaking the truth.
“Uhuru was in Kiambu on Sunday issuing title deeds to the residents there. He advised them not to sell land. I also advised the Maasai not to sell their communal land. Is there a difference in the two statements?” Raila posed.
He accused Jubilee of using the land question to gain political mileage yet they are the ones who have failed to implement the necessary laws.
Land, one of the main causes of inter-community tensions in 1992 and which exploded during the post-election violence in 2007-2008, is again back on the list of the key campaign issues.
At the heart of the raging storm is the report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), which exposed the extent to which land in Kenya is in the hands of a few privileged people and how communities lost their lands.
The report refers to issues that have given rise to inter-community animosities as ‘historical injustices’.
Raila has vowed that if elected President in the August 8 elections, he will implement the recommendations of the commission, some of which are drastic, in a move to end historical injustices meted out on some communities.
Raila has also accused Uhuru’s Jubilee administration of usurping county government powers on land.
The NASA leader has further accused Jubilee of deliberately failing to enact laws to reform the land sector, claiming that the administration’s reluctance is a scheme to sell community land. He promised to implement Chapter Five of the Constitution on Land and the TJRC report.
Deputy President William Ruto, however, accused Raila of incitement.
“So Tinga (Raila) believes implementing TJRC means every legitimate land buyer should go back where they came from as a way of dealing with poverty,” Ruto wrote on his Twitter handle.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale also waded into the controversy generated by Raila’s comments.
“Raila’s utterances have nothing to do with resolving the so-called land question in the country that he purports to champion. It is clear that the entire NASA leadership subscribes to Raila’s dangerous political philosophy,” Duale said.
He noted that Raila is on trial again, courtesy of Article 39 and 40 of the Constitution.
“All we ask him to do is to stop his desperate attempt to deny what he said in Kajiado. He called on the Maasai to exclude ‘outsiders’ from Kajiado,” Duale said.