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7,200 Mwea Settlement Scheme title deeds are invalid, says Anne Waiguru

By Sara Okuoro | Published Sat, April 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 13th 2018 at 23:57 GMT +3
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru

Governor Anne Waiguru and other Kirinyaga leaders Friday dismissed a report purporting that the process of surveying and allocating land at the Mwea Settlement Scheme has been undertaken and completed by the Embu County Government, jointly with the National Land Commission.

Earlier this month (April 2018) the Embu County Government reportedly started beaconing the Mwea settlement scheme in Mbeere South that was subdivided and 7,232 titles issued in 2016.

The beaconing came after the county lands department, the County Assembly and the security team held a public participation forum at Mashamba village to prepare locals for the exercise amid resistance from a section of residents.

Mbeere South Deputy County Commissioner Beverly Oporwa said the process has kicked off well devoid of tension as was being alleged on social media.

“The process started by erecting beacons in public utilities such as hospitals, schools and markets, among others. We conducted a series of public meetings to marshal support from the public ahead of the exercise,” she said.

Kirinyaga County leaders have strongly revoked the process, saying it was done in bad taste and was likely to increase tension in the region.

“The purported subdivision and allocation is not just utterly unethical and highly irregular but also an assault to the rule of law, because it has been done in contravention of an active court order, and an affront to the values of good neighbourliness, inclusivity and fairness. The move is bad, uncalled for and should not be supported by any sane person,” read part of a statement issued by Governor Waiguru and other Kirinyaga County leaders.

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County Lands CEC Josphat Kithumbu asserted that the process of surveying and issuing titles was done according to the relevant laws with all stakeholders including Ministry of Lands, National Land Commission and Attorney General’s office being involved.

The 44,000 acre land has been embroiled in controversy every time its demarcation and subdivision was being planned with successive governments failing to complete the process for over 30 years.

The leaders insisted that the ownership dispute between Embu and Kirinyaga Counties over the Mwea Settlement Scheme was far from over.

“It is at a more tense situation due to the irresponsible actions and utterances of some of the actors in the matter. Kirinyaga people will not trade off their birth-right in exchange for an unfair rushed solution to the dispute,” said the leaders.

A section of Mbeere South residents led by Makima MCA Philip Nzangi and his Mwea counterpart Mwaluko have been calling for a repeat of the exercise arguing that many deserving beneficiaries missed on allocations.

“The purported surveying and allocation of land to 7,200 beneficiaries was not inclusive since there was no genuine public participation and the primary stakeholders who are the nine kikuyu clans and the Mwea Settlement Scheme residents were neither involved nor consulted,” Kirinyaga leaders said in a statement to the press.

Kithumbu had earlier insisted that the process was carried out fairly and all deserving people were allocated land, adding that the few genuine cases that could have mistakenly been left out would be considered later.

He also said that the process was final and what was once Mwea Settlement scheme is now 7,232 parcels of land owned by different people.

Kirinyaga leaders however reiterated that:

  1. Mwea Settlement Scheme land belongs to the people of Kirinyaga and the Mwea Settlement Scheme residents
  2. All the purported title deeds issued in respect of the Mwea Settlement Scheme are invalid because due process was not followed. Titles were produced before demarcation and allocation of land.
  3. The process of resolving the ownership and allocation tussle must be inclusive, people-centred, and the identification of beneficiaries must be open, transparent, and fair.
  4. A forcible survey and allocation exercise overseen by security forces and experiencing resistance from residents will certainly explode in confrontation, and result in bloodshed.
  5. Embu County Lands Executive, Mr Kithumbu, be charged in court with contempt of court for violating a court order and presiding over the surveying and allocation of land in the settlement scheme
  6. A taskforce comprising of representatives of Ministries of Interior, Lands, National Land Commission, Kenya National Human Rights Commission, representatives of MPs for Mbeere South and Mwea, County Governments of Embu and Kirinyaga be formed to resolve this matter within 90 days.

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