National Land Commission says Supreme Court ruling did not water down its mandate

NAKURU, KENYA: The National Land Commission (NLC) has said its role has not been eroded by the Supreme Court ruling last week that defined its mandate and that of the Lands Ministry.
NLC Chairman Mr Mohammed Swazuri said the ruling marks the end of turf wars between his Commission and the Ministry as it comprehensively addressed the contentious issues.
Swazuri said the ruling bestowed the issuance and renewal of leases to the Commission which had been a major source conflict with the Ministry.
"The ruling has not removed the functions of the Commission but it clearly defined what we are supposed to do and we will sit with the Ministry to operationalise it," he said.
Swazuri said the Commission will also be involved in the preparatory stages of land allocation with the Ministry making the final declaration including issuing the title deeds.
A five Judge Bench led by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga last Wednesday ruled that the issuance of title deeds remains the prerogative of the Ministry since the Law does not give the Commission power to do so.
Swazuri however said the Commission was given other powers including that of declaring settlement schemes after consultation with the national and county governments.
He said the commission is also mandated to declare registration units and collect payments for leases.
"The ruling also made it clear the Commission is in charge of all the maps as we are the ones who use them most which the Ministry had failed to recognise. Institutions like the Kenya Wildlife Services(KWS) and Kenya Water Agency also cannot enter into agreements without our involvement ," said Swazuri
Speaking in Nakuru during a workshop of Land Administrative officers the NLC boss however said gross under-funding still remains a major challenge for the Commission.
Swazuri said in the 2014/ 2015 financial year NLC had requested for Sh 8 billion but was only allocated Sh 2 billion which hindered implementation of some planned projects.
In the 2015/2016 financial year the commission was allocated Sh 1.2 billion while it had submitted a budget of Sh 7.2 billion.
Swazuri said Sh 4 billion was meant to address land problem in settlement schemes but the process had been frustrated by inadequate funding .
"If we had received the Sh 4 billion we would have by now solved some of the issues in land settlements spread all over the country including in Nakuru, Kwale, Makueni and Kajiado," he added.