Tuesday, 26 February 2013
How this happened Kenyata Family to own thirty thousand of acres of Land ?
The admission by Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta that his family owns about 30,000 acres of land in Taita Taveta County has elicited angry reactions from residents. The residents and leaders claimed that the land was irregularly acquired and should be returned to the community. They dismissed claims by Uhuru during the second presidential debate in Nairobi on Monday night that the land was acquired through a “willing buyer willing seller” deal. The residents accused the Deputy Prime Minister of being insincere on the controversial land question and said 80 per cent of the population in Challa Division where the Kenyatta land is located were squatters. Two Taveta parliamentary aspirants Ruth Lelewu (ODM) and Stephen Odiaga (Ford-Kenya) claimed that the Kenyatta family irregularly acquired the most productive land in the area. “It is not willing buyer and willing seller as claimed by Uhuru Kenyatta during the presidential debate. The fact remains that the local community was not consulted when the land was acquired by the Kenyatta family and they want it back,” claimed Lelewu. Odiaga, a Mombasa lawyer, said the land belongs to the local community and should be returned. Speaking to The Standard from Taveta yesterday, Odiaga accused the Kenyatta family of using the entire Tsavo River water source at the expense of the locals. “The family is the only one benefiting from the Tsavo River water and farmers in Jipe Settlement Scheme, Kidong and Sir Ramson. The community should be allowed to use the water for irrigation to improve food security,” he added. During the presidential debate Uhuru said: “My family owns 30,000 acres in Taveta. Most of the land there is government land. My family donated part of the land to settle squatters.” Uhuru maintained that they acquired the land legally and have not been investigated for any wrong doing. And Coast residents want the National Land Commission to implement the Njonjo and Ndung’u land reports and ensure squatters are settled. Chairman of the Coast Landless Social Forum and an official of the Ujamaa Centre Mr Mrima Wanyepe welcomed Safina presidential candidate’s remarks that historical land injustices were committed from Lamu to Vanga at the Coast. In Lamu County, residents welcomed remarks by Amani presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi that some land speculators have already acquired plots in Manda Bay to sell at a higher price when the Lamu port project kicks off. However, they blamed the Government for issuing title deeds to the land speculators. A civil society activist from Taita Taveta County Mr Mwakio Ndau demanded that the Kenyatta family returns the land to locals without seeking compensation as there was no evidence of the community selling its land. “At independence, Government was supposed to acquire tracts of land under sisal in Taita Taveta County belonging to white settlers and redistribute it to the local people but instead influential individuals allocated it to themselves and friends,” Ndau argued. Lelewu denied claims by Uhuru and Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo that the Kenyatta family had donated land to resettle squatters in Taita. “The family has not donated 4,000 acres of land as claimed by family members. This is political gimmick to hoodwink locals to support Uhuru,” he claimed.