The issue of land, its ownership, use and management is a highly emotive one in Kenya and was one of the key issues that drove the need for a new constitution.
Cases of rampant land acquisition through illegal means have increased in the present day Kenya and specifically Isiolo County. Land is an important asset for development and one of the factors of production. But why would some individuals be so greedy to the extent of forcefully acquiring land without following the due procedures of ownership? Information from impeccable sources has intimated to us that certain personalities have grabbed TB Manyatta under the guise that the County Assembly of Isiolo are keen to buy that land. The TB manyatta serves patients from Isiolo, Marsabit and Moyale for decades. The law is very clear! A government organ like Isiolo County Assembly cannot buy public land as per as the law! Much worse due process of the law was not followed at all. In this regard, the leadership of County Assembly and the Executive is on the spot on this. County Assembly deposited a whopping Kshs 120 Million into the personal account of one CEC for Health which is flagrant abuse of the law. Why should a government organ pay such a staggering amount of money to purchase public land? Was the purchase of the said land approved by the entire County Assembly? Was County Land Management Board consulted? Was the expression of interest put on local dailies as per the procurement procedures.
These acts demonstrate high levels of impunity by corrupt powerful individuals and leaders who do not mind the common
mwananchi even though they were elected to protect the citizens’ interests. Majority of Isiolo people have decried and condemned alleged grabbing of their land by ‘powerful land cartels’ in the recent past.
They say one of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back and absolute power corrupts absolutely
Devolution is expected to help Kenyans reap the following:
1. Equitable distribution of resources across the country,especially to regions that have been marginalised for decades.
2. Management of governance and public service to the smallest units of the counties.
3. Timely and efficient delivery of public services such as health care, education and infrastructure.
4. Allowing Kenyans to take charge of their development initiatives from the grass—root levels through prioritising of their needs.
5. Avoiding political tensions at the national level by devolving leadership to the countryside.
The Commission and the Cabinet Secretary will have powers to make regulations to better carry into effect the provisions of the Land Act and Land Registration Act.
An additional requirement before effecting a transfer of land is the consent of the county land management board (a branch of the Commission), as to the use of the land. Whilst it is not explicitly clear what this consent will contain, we presume it will contain a certificate to the effect that the land is being used in accordance with the designated user. Where the Cabinet Secretary in this case CEC for Lands (as opposed to the Commission) makes regulations under the Land Registration Act, these have to take into account the advice of the Commission and be tabled before Parliament (in this the County Assembly) for approval. This is meant to allow for public scrutiny and introduce transparency in the creation of the regulations. More importantly, this is meant to ensure that the regulations are consistent with the general objectives of the Commission.
A transaction may be deemed void and land forfeited
Where the granting of public land or issuance of certificates of ownership is induced or obtained through corruption on the part of any government official or employee of the Commission, the transaction shall be void and of no legal effect. Any land acquired through a process tainted with corruption shall be forfeited to the Government. The term “corruption” shall be construed as defined in the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003. This definition is wide and includes ‘ abuse of office’ and ‘ breach of trust ‘.
Public land in Kenya refers to land unalienated by the Kenya Government , used or occupied by a State organ, which no individual or community ownership can be established, minerals and mineral oils, Government forests, and game reserves. Other land in Kenya that fall into this category are water catchment areas,
national parks , Government animal sanctuaries, roads , rivers, lakes and other water bodies, the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the sea bed. The continental shelf, land between the high and low water marks and any land not classified as private or community land also fall in this category.
Pursuant to the provision of Chapter 5, Article 62 of the Constitution Kenya, public land will be held in trust for the people by a county government and administered on their behalf by the National Land Commission. Other pieces of land will be held by the national government in trust for the people and administered on their behalf by the National Land commission. Article 62 (4) state clearly that; Public land shall not be disposed of or otherwise used except in terms of an Act of Parliament specifying the nature and terms of that disposal or use.
The allocation of public land to private individuals has been a concern for many people in Isiolo County for a long time. Allocation of public land was within the control of public officers at the Ministry of Lands, who were susceptible to influence by the executive arm of the Government. In this particular case the process of allocation of public land (TB Manyatta) was therefore shrouded in secrecy and often, members of the public would only realize that public land has been expropriated, after a title deed has been issued to private persons. – known to the public.
Allocation of public land to private persons will now be managed and supervised by the Commission. This creates independence in the allocation process as the executive arm of the Government will no longer have control of the process. In addition, land available for allocation will now be Gazetted and notices published in at least two local dailies, prior to commencement of the allocation process.
This will go a long way in creating transparency and public participation in the allocation process. There is need for mindset change among leaders and gluttonous individuals who perpetuate land crimes if we are to solve this menace and live in harmony among ourselves. We therefore, urge the National Land Commission to nullify this illegitimate transaction forthwith.