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Opinion: National Land Commission should get its act together

By The Standard | April 2nd 2018
Muhammad Swazuri

That a body propped up by taxpayers’ money to streamline regulations around land ownership can fail to come up with proper regulations to cure historical land injustices is a blow to property ownership in Kenya.

Last week, the Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislation revealed that the National Land Commission (NLC) had made grave errors in the drafting of regulations supposed to help address the scars of land injustices.

Without clear regulations, the commission chaired by Muhammad Swazuri cannot live up to its stated mission of implementing an efficient land administration and management system to ensure equity in access to land.

Having spent taxpayers' money on meetings that led to the drafting of the Historical Land Injustices Regulations of 2016, NLC must come clean on why a team of 10 commissioners came up with flawed regulations that now risk making the body irrelevant if it cannot deliver on one of its core mandates.

To have come up with an Act stating that a historical land claim may only be admitted, registered and processed by the commission if it is brought within five years from the date of commencement of the Act is equal to serving further injustice on the afflicted parties.

Putting such limits in a regulation that commenced in May 2012, then boldly presenting it in Parliament, yet that effectively means no one can bring forward historical cases of land injustices, is a slap in the face for Kenyans.

The commission was expected to use the regulation to address all historical land injustices that occurred between June 15, 1895 and August 27, 2010.

Having a five-year timeline could as well mean all complainants are time-barred. So many Kenyans have pending land matters and expect better from such a crucial commission.

Land is the most expensive factor of production and it has been the cause of bloodshed before. Buying time in office without proper regulations in place only serves to awaken the spirit of ethnic flare-ups.  

In addition, the law does not indicate anywhere that the committee undertook public participation. 

The commissioners should be made to explain who was behind such glaring mistakes, including gazettement of the regulations, without seeking approval from Parliament.

Kenyans deserve an equitable society built on honest and transparent regulations.



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