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MPs vow to oppose Community Land Bill

By Renson Mnyamwezi | November 2nd 2015

Four Coast MPs Sunday vowed to rally their colleagues in Parliament to shoot down the proposed Community Land Bill, saying if enacted into law, it will centralise the management of land and render the National Land Commission (NLC) powerless.

They said a powerless NLC will have far-reaching negative effects on land reforms at the Coast, given the region’s vast idle land and unique historical land injustices.

MPs Hassan Mwanyoha (Matuga), Harrison Kombe (Magarini), Thomas Mwadeghu (Wundanyi) and Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate) said the bill was defective.

NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri has also opposed the proposed proposed law, saying it would scrap the 42 county land management boards that provide a link between county governments and the national government.

The legislators said if the bill becomes law, it would vest all powers over community land on the Lands Cabinet secretary instead of the counties.

“As elected leaders and other relevant stakeholders, we have thoroughly interrogated the contentious Community Land Bill and found out that it will centralise the management of community land.

“The bill has given the national government powers over community and trust lands. We have found out that some dishonest people plan to give Lands CS powers over the community land, which has been the root cause of many land problems in the region,” Kombe, a United Republican Party legislator, said.

He said if the bill is passed into law, about 87 per cent of the total land in Taita-Taveta County would still be managed by the national government.

Addressing a public rally in Mwatate town Sunday, the legislators told the local community to stand firm to protect their deprived lands rights by outsiders.

Land injustices

Mwadime warned that if passed and signed into law, the bill would protect individuals who own huge chunks of land at the expense of the landless Kenyans.

“Land matters in the region are so sensitive that we should all join hands to reject the draft bill that is aimed at protecting few powerful individuals who are illegally occupying huge chunks of land in the region at the expense of the locals, who are marginalised and living in abject poverty and landlessness,” said Mwadime.

Mwanyoha said there is escalation of skewed distribution of land ownership and unequal access to land in some areas in the country like the Coastal region, which the law must address first.

“The laws currently protect few powerful individuals and should not be enacted hurriedly as doing so will not solve historical land injustices meted against certain regions,” he warned.

He added: “We need laws to promote national cohesion, reconciliation and integration in the process of addressing historical land injustices.”

 NLC has raised alarm over what they term a possible clash between the commission and the Ministry following recommendations made to the House team Lands that they insist have not been adopted.

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