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Keep off land, Criticos tells county officials

By Renson Mnyamwezi | September 1st 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Former Taveta MP Basil Criticos at his Machungwani farm in July 2013 after it was invaded by squatters.

A war of words has erupted between the Taita Taveta County Government and former Taveta MP Basil Criticos over the disputed Machungwani vast farm in Taveta sub-county.

Mr Criticos said yesterday that the county administration has no powers to sub-divide the farm that still belongs to him.

The land measuring about 3,000 hectares has been invaded by thousands of squatters who have vowed not to leave.

But Criticos claimed there are no squatters on the farm.

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“Those claiming to be squatters are just land grabbers and speculators," said Criticos, adding that all genuine squatters were settled at his former vast farm, AFC land adjacent to Machungwani.

He claimed immediately after Lands and Housing Executive Mwandawiro Mghanga announced the land does not belong to him, land grabbers invaded the farm and started sub-dividing it among themselves.

“The county government cannot sub-divide the land as claimed by the county executive. Despite the fact that the farm lease expired in 2014, the land still belongs to me until the national government decides on its status,” said the former legislator cum farmer.

Speaking to The Standard yesterday, the former legislator said he is currently consulting his legal team with the view to taking the county government to court for inciting residents to invade his property.

The county administration has vowed to repossess the farm from Criticos.

Jones Maskuji, Mboghoni ward representative, in whose area the land falls, claimed there are plans to renew the lease for the benefit of the original land owner.

Squatter problem

But Mghanga said the county will not allocate the land to Criticos as this will escalate the growing squatter problem in the region.

Criticos says he applied for lease extension six years ago and the matter is still pending at the National Land Commission.

Legally, the land is still owned by the original owner until the government determines its status, senior land officials said.

Taveta MP Basil Criticos National Land Commission
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