Kenyan elite braces itself for tough land reforms

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Kenya’s ruling elite, former and serving cabinet ministers and families of former presidents are bracing for forthcoming land seizures following a government announcement on Friday to implement a controversial land reform plan.

Kenya’s Lands Minister James Orengo, an opposition activist who was appointed a minister in the ruling Grand Coalition government after a two-decade long battle with the security agents, said he was moving to implement a controversial land reform plan.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki failed to implement the controversial land reform plan, outlined in the Ndung’u land report, which investigated illegal acquisition of government land by mostly serving and former government officials.

The parcels of land include those set aside for expansion of universities, air strips, airports, farmlands for state corporation and correctional facilities such as prisons, market centres in major cities and towns, among others.

The Ndung’u report investigated the acquisition of these parcels of land and made a raft of recommendations on who grabbed the land and suggested measures to end the problem.

The report, which was released after weeks of public pressure on President Kibaki’s government, was later thrown back to the shelves and the then Lands Minister, Amos Kimunya, transferred to the ministry of finance as minister in 2005.

Orengo, speaking on Friday during a party to bid farewell to the former head of the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Maina Kiai, said he had resisted attempts to delay the implementation of the Ndung’u report.

“I am prepared to bite the bullet to defend the principles for which I stand. I am going to hit hard in the next two to three weeks by implementing the Ndung’u land report,” he said.

Orengo, a constitutional lawyer, led Kenya’s fight for what came to be known as the second liberation struggle, mainly targeting the inner circle of President Daniel Moi’s regime and bagging a series of prison stints.

He said he was not ready to abandon his fight, adding: “There are aspects of the report that require a legal framework but there are parts of the report which only require the minister to apply his ministerial powers.”

Prime Minister Raila Odinga pledged during the campaigns for the Presidency to implement the Ndung’u land report, which exemplifies the impunity with which corruption was practiced during the rule of Moi and the founding President, Kenyatta.

Moi warned in December last year that implementing the Ndung’u land report would lead to political chaos in Kenya. Panapress .

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