Powerful politicians are using poor locals as “human shields” in order to protect their commercial interests in the Mau complex, a senator has claimed.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said senior Government officials from previous regimes hived off parts of the Mau for tea plantations and illegal activities such as logging.
Ole Kina claimed the politicians, including former permanent secretaries and MPs, brought in people to use as cheap labour. The people then opted to settle there and earn extra income by plundering forest resources because they were being paid peanuts, he alleged.
His utterances coincide with Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko’s remarks that powerful individuals would soon be arrested after Government completes investigations into the encroachment of 14,000ha in the Mau.
“Those people who own huge chunks of land brought in labourers to do the illegal activities for them, for example planting tea and logging. Since they were paid peanuts, these people also got into activities such as logging and burning charcoal,” he said.
The senator dismissed claims that the settlers possessed title deeds and that some genuinely bought land there. He said they were instead being used as “human shields” through the creation of a “human misery” narrative so that the rich politicians could continue with their illegal businesses.
“Show me those poor people. Show me one who can produce a title deed and say I bought the land from so and so through the correct process,” asked Kina.
“Those corrupt and unscrupulous powerful people who worked in government are the ones who are now using the poor people as shields because they do not want to be evicted from the Mau, they want to continue using it for logging.”
Kina said some of the richest people in Narok had made their living from logging in the Mau. He said the illegal activity was still going on and accused forest authorities for abetting it through corruption.
The water tower spans several counties with Narok being one of them.
The senator was speaking on Point Blank, a political show that airs every Wednesday night on KTN News and is hosted by Tony Gachoka.
Kina spoke on a wide range of political issues, but the emotive Mau issue dominated the interview.
He ruled out compensation for those being evicted, saying it was difficult to determine.
According to him, most of those being evicted from the Mau have “second homes” mostly in other parts of Rift Valley. The legislator argued that it was the reason that politicians such as Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot were against the evictions.
The senator said the talk of “human misery” on the evictions and that children would be displaced and miss out on schools was part of the narrative by powerful people.
“If these people did not have a second home, then you wouldn’t see the likes of Murkomen and Cheruiyot coming to say we are defending our people. We have a million schools in Kenya... if these people are moved from here, they can be readmitted in other schools for free; that’s not a big deal,” he said.
He asked the President not to relent on the evictions.
“I’m even on record asking the President to suspend everything on his Big Four agenda, put his Cabinet on this issue, set up a tent in Mau and invite every single person who is laying a claim on the Mau and find a solution,” he said.
He added that the language of the politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto showed his hand in the Mau issue. He urged Ruto to “stop interfering”.
On national politics, Kina urged President Kenyatta to be “decisive” and stamp his authority over Ruto.
“Uhuru has to be decisive, he’s got to rule over his deputy. As a leader, you’ve got to say this is the path we are going to take as a nation. The problem we have is a Constitution that almost created the presidency as a shared responsibility between the President and his deputy,” he said.
On law reforms, Kina said the Maasai supported Building Bridges Initiative. He trashed the Ekuru Aukot-led Punguza Mizigo initiative.