Stop using squatter problem as your campaign tool, Mruttu warns

Taita Taveta governor John Mruttu has warned politicians against using the emotive Taveta squatter problem as their campaign tool.

Governor Mruttu cautioned that the issue is so sensitive that it can cause animosity among the people who live in the border town of Taveta.

Desist from cheating the Tavetas that once you are elected you would be in a position to deal with this menace in order to gain political mileage, noted the governor.

He wondered why his political rivals were visiting the area during the electioneering period to try and convince the electorate to support their gubernatorial bids yet they knew there was a squatter problem in the area.

Mruttu said Taveta MP Naomi Shaban and himself are the ones better placed to adequately address the land problems and not any other person who lives outside the area.

It is only Dr Shaban and I who can adequately address the land issue in the area and not outsiders, said the governor.

We belong to the Taveta community and we are conversant with the squatter menace among other pertinent issues affecting them, he said.

The governor who will seek to recapture his seat as an independent candidate said that it was wrong for his rivals to lie to the people that they can solve this issue immediately they were elected.

We do not want a situation whereby people from outside come to campaign and mislead residents over the squatter settlement programme. We are capable of solving our land among other problems facing the minority community,said the county boss.

In a press statement, Mruttu noted that the issue of the squatter menace had taken centre stage in Taita-Taveta County politics as the country gears up for the August 8 elections and if not handled properly it could cause anarchy amongst the residents.

He told off Senator Dan Mwazo and Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu accusing them of spreading lies that they would find a lasting solution to the thorny squatter issue in Taveta Sub County.

The two gentlemen who have been criss-crossing Taveta constituency which is the home ground of Mruttu are battling it out with him in the August polls.

The town which neighbouring Tanzania is home to thousands of squatters.

The senator and County Women Representative Joyce Wanjala Lay defected to Jubilee Party and were awarded direct tickets.

The gubernatorial candidates, who have both picked their running mates from Taveta, accused the county administration of doing little to address the squatter issue in the region.

The governor claimed Mwazo who served as assistant minister and Voi MP had failed to address land issues in the constituency he represented and cannot be trusted to offer land solutions in other areas.

He at the same time said Mr Mwadeghu had also failed to address land matter in his constituency citing the long standing boundary issue involving Kishushe Ranching Cooperative Society and Wanjala Mining Company which had been extracting iron ore.

The county intervened and used its resources to resolve some of the land issue in Voi and Wundanyi constituencies when the two leaders watched, said Mruttu.

He said the issue of AFC land formerly owned by former Taveta MP Basil Criticos would be addressed by Taweta themselves and not leaders from outside the constituency.

He assured residents that the on-going squatter settlement programme on AFC land would be completed soon and residents would be issued with their title deeds to help improve their lives.

Meanwhile, Mr Criticos , Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and the National Government have agreed to settle thousands of squatters in Taveta.

The parties have agreed that AFC sell part of the more than 7,200 acres of land formally owned by the former legislator to settle about 5000 squatters in Taveta Sub County.

The Taveta Land Control Board had earlier given Criticos consent to sub-divide the disputed farm to settle the outstanding loan amounting to millions of shillings.

Criticos and senior AFC officials said squatters who had been living on the land for years will be issued with title deeds for the land they currently occupy and will also be required to buy two-acres of land for farming.

Source: Kenya News Agency