Sunday, August 2, 2009



Friday, July 31 2009

Man who chaired commission on illegal allocation of land tells writer SAMWEL KUMBA, of the genesis of the Mau problem

It all started in the mid 1980s as a well-meaning campaign to settle the landless.

The government, under President Daniel Moi, decided that the Ogiek community should not be homeless anymore.

They were to be resettled permanently where they could be provided with social amenities such as hospitals and schools. That is how the government ordered an excision of part of Mau Forest Complex, made up of 22 forest blocks, for settlement.

Mr Paul Ndung’u, who chaired the commission on illegal and irregular allocation of public land, told Saturday Nation that it was in the process of carving out land for these settlements, that corruption crept in.

“Instead of carving out say, 2,000 hectares, those handling the exercise would excision 10,000 hectares and allocate the extra hectares to themselves and other influential individuals in government,” said Mr Ndung’u.

College land

Mr Ndung’u gives an example of Kiptagich settlement, to which some residents from Baringo were moved when their land was taken for construction of a college.

Kiptagich, in the southern part of Mau Forest, started as a very small settlement scheme. And since the area was virgin land and close to the tea growing zones of Kericho, the new arrivals also ventured into growing tea.

According to Mr Ndung’u, President Moi, while touring the area, realised tea was doing very well and conceived of plans to expand its production. He got himself a huge chunk of land and grew tea.

“The tea growers used to deliver it to the factories near Kericho which was not only far but through very bad road network.

Eventually, Mr Moi decided to build a private factory there for them,” said Mr Ndung’u.

The Ndung’u Commission found that the excision of Kiptagich Farm from Trans Mara Forest in 1988 was illegal.The report’s verdict was that former President Moi’s children, who were illegally allocated land, including former Baringo Central MP Gideon Moi and his wife Zahra, Raymond Kiprotich, Doris Choge and Jonathan Toroitich, should return it.

And an audit report of the Mau forests by the Committee on Land Ownership and Resettlement matters appointed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, which has already been approved by the Cabinet, shows that beneficiaries of the Mau allocations were never the Ogiek people.

According to the committee of the prime minister’s task force on the conservation of the Mau forests, correspondence revealed that land in the Mau was allocated by public officers and provincial administrators who had no legal authority to allocate it.

Later in 1997, the government decided to establish in Nakuru another settlement scheme – Olenguruone and extension of Kiptagich for which 1,812 ha were set aside.

An interview of a former Commissioner for Lands by the Ndung’u Commission revealed that the intension was to establish an outgrower tea zone for Kiptagich Tea Estates, sitting on 937.7 ha of land.

All these excisions had not been gazetted.

Other settlements established without de-gazetting the forest included South West of Mau to establish Saino, Ndoinet, Tinet among others, and Eastern Mau to establish Sururu and Likia.

In the 1990s group ranches were ordered to subdivide their land among members. The directive also applied to land buying companies and cooperatives.

A few ranches bordered the Mau forest. In the process of subdivision of ranches, they encroached into forest land, and subdivided it as well.

This is when the settlements on the Narok and Trans Mara side of the Mau started.

But some was given to, mainly Maasai’s, who sold their portions to mostly the Kipsigis, for as low as Sh10,000 a hectare.

Mr Ndung’u says that because all the settlements were created in the forest before it was de-gazatted to farm land, everything was done illegally.

It does not matter who gave the directive, including the President... the titles should be revoked, everybody should be evicted and the forest to be replanted,” he said.