Rasna Warah’s column today in Daily Nation makes a factual error which she needs to correct. She says, in one paragraph, that “both the opposition ODM and the Ruling PNU parties failed to engage with the MRC to address their issues, even when ODM held the land docket in the coalition government formed in 2008.”
First, ODM was not ‘opposition’ and PNU ‘ruling’ during the grand coalition government. If, indeed, this was true. then we have ODM to thank for the numerous times it broke ranks with its ruling partner PNU on key issues.
Second, ODM actively engaged MRC at a time to have acknowledged the outfit was seen as pussyfooting with criminals. At that time, not only was engaging MRC a crime, there seemed to have existed an official political curfew on the whole of coast, especially from the ODM side.
Third, the MRC was not just fighting over land. There were other issues, including a history of exclusion by ‘watu wa bara’ managing coast economy, and, by the ‘bara government’, managing coast from Nairobi.
Did ODM leaders do nothing to bring MRC issues to public debate and government policy? This is the impression you get from Warah.
Rasna should remember that, at certain time during the grand coalition life, even visiting the coast region to engage with locals by then PM Raila Odinga was actively curtailed. It was such frustrations that prompted Mr. Odinga to protest with his ‘nusu mkeka’ refrain.
The government, which Rasnah calls ‘ruling PNU’, wanted nothing to do with MRC. How about the ‘opposition ODM’ then?
To turn around and claim that the ‘opposition ODM’ did not engage the coast is a fallacy, and a big lie that has been perpetuated to blame ODM leaders who served in government for doing too little, without appreciating the political context, and arrangement, in which they served.
The other outright lie, peddled so determinedly, is the claim that when ODM managed the lands ministry, they, and specifically Hon, James Orengo, did ‘nothing’ to reduce, and, or end, land grabbing in the country.
In Mombasa alone, Hon. Orengo revoked hundreds of title deeds acquired unscrupulously, many by the big cats of PNU. These title deeds were of thousands of acreages of land.
Just because Hon. Orengo didn’t call the media to ‘launch’ the revocations doesn’t mean he did not. In fact, until Ngilu revokes lands belonging to Jubilee ‘bigwigs’, her publicity stunts are just a smokescreen to hoodwink the gullible and, as usual, ‘buy’ support for a regime with little to show, two years.
Land is revoked via gazette notices. Rasnah needs to check these notices to appreciate the extent of theft at the coast, and the measures Hon. Orengo took at that time.
Even more important, Warah, and indeed other commentators on the coast land issue, should at least go beyond giving their ‘opinions’ to basing such opinions on facts accrued from data readily available, some of which are currently being destroyed, falsified and, or ‘corrected’ to give an impression of wrong-doing on the part of officials in the last regime.
On a single day alone, 26th November 2010, issued 11 gazette notices revoking grabbed titles of Ukunda Airstrip. The land in question was thousands of acres. On the same day, another 26 gazette notices were issued by the minister, revoking grabbed land in Mombasa.
Earlier, on 21st May, he had revoked 20 title deeds of grabbed land in Lamu (some of which were recently ‘revoked again’). The Lamu titles, then owned by PNU’s Fahim Twaha, among others, were all sand dunes – the only sources of freshwater in the Lamu Archipelago. Again, the land acreage is in thousands.
There are thousands of revocations done by Hon. Orengo that has been conveniently ‘kept secret’. These revocations are in gazette notices, public documents that anyone willing to dig out the ‘truth and facts’ will easily get.
Land is revoked via gazette notices. How many notices has Ngilu issued? You make one revocation and its like a ‘scientific breakthrough’.
Now, let us not be misconstrued. CORD isn’t opposed to land justice. However, the experiences that people like Orengo underwent while revoking lands belonging to bigwigs (only for the courts to rescind such revocations) led to the creation of a constitutional commission – National Land Commission – to deal, once and for all, with all ‘land questions’.
If Sonko can manage to put the President on a loudspeaker and have him publicly ‘stop’ requisition of a grabbed land already ‘developed’ by a ‘private developer’, how many more secret calls do you think has gone through the President’s phone?
The new constitution foresaw future presidents meddling in land matters, that’s why it created an ‘independent’ commission, free from executive fiat, to resolve land issues. How empowered is this commission? Did the constitution anticipate the re-emergent of a powerful executive factotum grinding land reforms to a halt?
The easy part, done already, is calling media and blowing hot air. The hard part is for the law to back up your actions. Mrs Ngilu’s ‘one-woman show’, laced with executive arrogance and our famed hypocrisy as a country, will face a rude shock when the courts begin to peel them off.
What is illegal and unconstitutional, however popular they are, cannot stand this country’s justice system. That’s what Ngilu’s land ‘wars’ are – illegal and unconstitutional.
The challenge now, worse than Ngilu’s comeback, are the geysers of lies, innuendoes and quasi-intellectual ‘analyses’ on this land discourse by people too willing to perpetuate the ludicrous falsehoods being peddled around.
Rasnah is a fairly objective columnist, where did she miss it?
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Documents show that some of the titles revoked recently by President Uhuru, especially the famed Shanghai Africa (or some company to that effect) were allocated the land parcel for limited lease by then Lamu County Council. Among the councillors who ‘approved’ this allocation was one Julius Ndegwa, the current Lamu West MP. This has not stopped him from blowing hot and cold how Hon. Orengo, whose role was limited to ensuring the correct procedures had been followed, grabbed lands in Lamu. These people are so shameless.