CS Matiang'i wants land laws amended to cut NLC powers

NAIROBI: A fresh bid has been launched to amend land laws - a move that would render the National Land Commission (NLC) powerless in management of land issues.

A Cabinet subcommittee headed by Deputy President William Ruto is spearheading the proposed changes.

This was revealed in a letter from acting Lands Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i to the Attorney General, seeking his opinion on the proposed changes on the Land Act, Land Registration Act and National Land Commission Act.

"I will appreciate your feedback and comments by April 20, 2015," said part of the letter dated April 7.

In the letter, Mr Matiang'i said the Acts create operational challenges in land transactions hence the ministry proposes the changes so that the laws conform with the Constitution and unlock the said bottlenecks.

"There is need to amend the laws to remove the ambiguity that seems to give NLC the authority to sign titles and establish registration units," he said. He also wants NLC to operate at the policy advisory level, research and investigatory level, perform an oversight and monitoring functions.

"These functions would accord with the design intended by the Constitution for NLC to among other roles, secure the observance by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development of democratic values and principles and promote constitutionalism."

The acting CS said the current legislation runs parallel to the Executive Order number two of 2013, which stipulates the role of the ministry and which draws the mandate of the ministry as outlined in the Constitution.

Land Policy

He also wants the National Land Policy reviewed because it is inconsistent with the Constitution.

"The mainstay of this policy is to vest NLC with executive functions on land in what appears to be a watering down of the executive role of the ministry responsible for land," he said.

"Land adjudication processes take place on community land or ancestral lands and in a rather unconstitutional manner, the NLC Act mandates the commission to undertake adjudication, which needs amendments," said Matiang'i.

He said once land has been alienated and leased to individuals, it ceases to be public land.