Swazuri, governors oppose land Bill

National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri (left) and Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya. They have asked Parliament to reject the Land Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015, saying it is “suspect” and “retrogressive”. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • He said the Bill offers no solution to the land question, adding that there are many alternative ways of tackling clashing mandates between the ministry and the NLC.
  • Suspended Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and the NLC have been at loggerheads over roles assigned to each of them by the National Land Act and the National Land Commission Act.
  • The commission said the draft law has a section that allows the minister to prescribe regulations for the registration of long term-leases.

A commission and governors have opposed an amendment Bill being fronted by the Lands ministry.

The National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri and Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya called on Parliament to reject the Land Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015, saying it is “suspect” and “retrogressive”.

“NLC suspects some people are using the proposed amendment to limit the commission’s powers with claims of streamlining the working of government land agencies,” Dr Swazuri said.

He said the Bill offers no solution to the land question, adding that there are many alternative ways of tackling clashing mandates between the ministry and the NLC.

AUTONOMY JEOPARDISED
Dr Swazuri and Mr Munya spoke during a four-day forum at Travellers Beach Hotel in Mombasa.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the National Assembly Lands Committee, the Lands ministry, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, and the Law Society of Kenya, among other groups.

The director of Land Administration at the NLC, Ms Mercy Njamea, said the commission’s autonomy was threatened.

“Limiting the mandate of the NLC to the management of public land on behalf of the national and county governments restricts its policy-making powers.

In addition, it limits the powers of the commission regarding the allocation of public land. This goes against the spirit of the Constitution,” she said.

Suspended Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and the NLC have been at loggerheads over roles assigned to each of them by the National Land Act and the National Land Commission Act.

CRIPPLING OF POWERS
The commission said the draft law has a section that allows the minister to prescribe regulations for the registration of long term-leases.

“A conflict of interest is being created by this amendment. If passed, the commission cannot undertake its role of creating leases for public land on behalf of county and national governments as outlined in Article 67 (2) (a) of the Constitution,” Ms Njamea said.

The proposed law seeks to do away with county land management boards. Mr Munya said doing so would “kill” the spirit of consultation in solving disputes at the grassroots.

“As governors, we ask Parliament to dismiss the Bill in its entirety,” Mr Munya said.

However, the ministry’s legal adviser, Mr Martin Oloo, defended the Bill, saying it is all-inclusive. He said it was crafted after wide consultation.

He said the proposed law will clear contradictions in the National Land Act.

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