Coast lawmakers and NLC reject proposed land law

By: DANIEL TSUMA NYASSY

Coast MPs and the National Land Commission have opposed the Community Land Bill.

NLC Chairman Muhamad Swazuri said the Bill defeated the spirit of devolution as it robbed the commission of its powers.

“The Bill also wants NLC commissioners to be one appointed by the Public Service Commission, which the executive can dissolve any time. We strongly reject it as it also wants to dissolve county land boards,” Dr Swazuri said.

Coast Parliamentary Group Chairman Gideon Mung’aro said leaders were consulting with those from the north-east, Rift Valley and pastoralist regions whose residents were likely to be seriously affected should the Bill become law.

But the Kilifi North MP said it would be difficult for lawmakers to shoot down the Bill in the House as it had reached the second reading stage.

“Shooting down the Bill will not be easy and needs 65 per cent of the MPs. However, we are looking at the amendments. In the event that they outweigh the other clauses, the situation could force the Bill’s withdrawal from Parliament,” he said.

Msambweni MP Khatib Mwashetani said land had been grabbed in the Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western and other parts of the country “and now the Bill wants to target the remaining land in the north-east, the Coast, especially my area Kwale and Taita-Taveta, which have abundant minerals”.

He said the Bill aimed at removing powers from the commission and counties to revert them to the Executive.

“This is a defeatist move to the spirit of devolution,” Mr Mwashetani said.

Taita-Taveta and Mombasa woman representatives Joyce Ley and Mishi Mboko respectively, said the Bill was hurriedly sneaked into Parliament without public participation or passing through the Parliamentary Land Committee.

“We shall speak with one voice as marginalised areas to oppose this Bill. If passed, land historical injustices and impunity would be perpetuated. We expected a progressive Bill and this is what we got. We cannot accept it,” Ms Mboko said.

She added that if passed, the Lands and Housing Cabinet Secretary “who in principle is the President” would have sweeping powers.

“This will take the country back to the past with possibilities of more violence,” she said.

Magarini MP Harry Kombe said the Bill was dangerous as it would expose Coast and other marginalised areas to grabbing.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said the region had unanimously agreed to reject the Bill because it was not good for the country and marginalised areas in particular.