Representatives from all of the four Sub-Counties of Marsabit County yesterday converged at the Marsabit Catholic Hall to air their views and present their memoranda to the National Lands Commission’s taskforce on historical land injustices.
The Commissioners took the audience through four main areas within which they said the participants must restrict their view and grievances. These areas include:
a) Definition of historical injustices and identification of the nature of the claims/complaints.
b) Developing mechanisms for investigation and adjudication of claims/complaints.
c) Remedies for historical land injustices.
d) How to promote national cohesion, integration, reconciliation and healing in the process of resolving historical land injustices.
The predictably highly emotional forum was officially opened and ably moderated by H.E. the Governor Amb. Ukur, who gave five speakers of each of the four Sub-Counties to present their views and grievances.
Earlier on, trouble started briefly when the head of the task force’s delegation, Mr. Gishinga Kibara, inadvertently said something to the effect that the forum wasn’t a political gathering. This remark, though he later labored a great deal to apologize, rubbed a section of the audience and some MCAs on the dais the wrong way.
It took the swift intervention of H.E. the Governor to cool down tempers. Typical of a diplomat extra-ordinaire, the good Governor stepped forth, summoned aside all the leaders in the dais briefly and proceeded to moderate the forum himself. The pent-up emotions and anger immediately dissipated and the forum went on uninterrupted. It is important to note that this move by H.E. the Governor was lauded as heroic and a timely demonstration of leadership by some members of the audience who shuddered to wonder what would have become of the forum had the good Governor not been in attendance!
Lack of land ownership and control, lack of requisite land documents like valid title deeds, gross encroachment and brazen annexation of community lands by National Parks whose revenues are not benefiting communities affected, ill-defined boundaries, lack of proper legislation on pastoral lands, among others, were some of the grievances presented to the task force across the four Sub-Counties.
As remedies to correct the above, the following suggestions were made:
a) Communities be given the authority to manage their own lands.
b) Proper and valid land documents to be given to legitimate land owners.
c) Revocation of all lands obtained illegally.
d) The County Government be given the role to register lands.
e) Proper land management and planning to be carried out across the county.
f) Establishment of County land boards.
g) Establishment of specific law targeting pastoralist lands.
h) Strategies aimed at sharing resources by all ethnic communities of the County to be mapped out and implemented.
The forum was attended by the Deputy Governor H.E. Omar Abdi, the County Commissioner Mr. Peter Thuku, area MP, Hon Dido Ali Raso, MP for Moyale, Hon. Roba Duba, the CEC Lands, Hon. Yasmin Shariff and MCAs.