NEWS 2005

 

Land policy long overdue

EDITORIALS

Publication Date: 3/12/2005

The National Land Policy Formulation Process Steering Committee will start collecting views from the public in Mombasa next week. Its mandate is to collate public impressions to help the Government to formulate a sustainable national land policy.

Lands minister Amos Kimunya acknowledged this week that this will be a daunting task given the emotive nature of land issues. His assurance that the policy formulation process would be sensitive to the social, political and economic implications of land will not mean much to the multitudes who have given their views to similar committees in the past. 

The process of formulating a land policy comes at a time when the country is faced with many challenges, ranging from historic displacements, conflicts between human settlements and conservation to encroachment on riparian and other water catchments.

These issues were addressed during the consultations of the Kenya Constitutional Review Commission (CKRC), the Commission of Inquiry into the Land Law System of Kenya 2002 (the Njonjo Report) and the Irregular Allocation of Public Land 2004 (the Ndung'u Report). These reports have recommended that the Government depoliticise the allocation of public land.

Following the Narc Government's revocation of irregularly issued title deeds, respect for the sanctity of the title deed as a symbol of legitimate ownership has come under scrutiny.

These are probably some of the issues that will come up during the land policy formulation process.

But the Government must stop the business of talking. It must speedily work towards presenting a policy paper in Parliament for discussion and adoption to give the country a clear framework for dealing with issues of land allocation and ownership. Among others, this will end cases of whimsical directives by politicians on land matters.