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Lawyer wants MPs to enact law on land size

National Assembly in a previous session. [File, Standard]

A case has been filed before the High Court in Nairobi seeking orders to have Parliament enact a law limiting how much land a person can own.

Lawyer Memba Mayama in his case against the National Assembly, Senate and Attorney General argues that failure by the august House to spell out the maximum acreage an individual can own is a violation of the Constitution.

He is of the view that following the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, Parliament was required to pass a law on private land ownership within 18 months.

However, he says, MPs have remained silent.

"Schedule 5 of the Constitution provides that legislation envisaged under Article 68 of the Constitution shall be enacted within 18 months of the effective date. In essence, Parliament was bound to enact legislation giving effect to Article 68(c)(1) before or on 27th February 2012. However, no effective legislation has been enacted to date.

"The genesis of this humble petition is the failure by Parliament to enact legislation prescribing the minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect to private land as prescribed in Article 68(c)(i) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (' the Constitution'')," argues Mayama.

Currently, there is no law that provides for either the minimum or maximum parcel of land an individual can own.

Until 2009, the country never had a National Land Policy. There were also several land laws, some of which were incompatible resulting in a complex land management and administration system.

Since independence, the emotive land question has manifested itself in many ways such as fragmentation, breakdown in land administration, disparities in ownership and poverty.

Other related complications arose, including environmental, social, economic and political problems. Others are deterioration in land quality, squatting and landlessness, disinheritance, urban squalor, under-utilization and abandonment of agricultural land, tenure insecurity and conflicts.

Currently, freehold land makes up slightly over 20 per cent of land held countrywide either individually or collectively.

Majority of the high-value agricultural land that has been adjudicated is registered as freehold after colonial settlers demanded land individualisation before investment.

Mayama argues that the State has powers to regulate the use of any land. He however asserts that to date Parliament has failed to give effect to Article 60(1) (a) and (c) of the Constitution.

According to him, The Land Laws Amendment Act, (2016) does not prescribe the minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect to private land.

He further argues that the drafters of the Constitution envisioned the laws and policies on land management in place, the local communities and their economies would benefit.

He wants the court to force Parliament to enact the law within 30 days.