The highest law of the land, the Constitution of Kenya, is explicit on the issue of property ownership by any Kenyan anywhere in the country.This was deliberate because the right to property was one of the sticking points during the Lancaster conferences at the dawn of Independence.The Constitution that was agreed on was explicit that no property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of, and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsorily acquired from any Kenyan anywhere.
The import of that is that even if a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is set up, it is doubtful if its mandate will be to extinguish the right to property in the name of correcting historical injustices.The saddest thing about the land situation in Kenya is that the largest culprits actually are amongst some of our political elite and are the same ones who manipulate the peasantry to unleash terror on perceived ‘foreigners’ amongst them.
That a section of Rift Valley Members of Parliament, piqued after failing to clinch Cabinet posts, are actually using the internally displaced people in Rift Valley as a bargaining tool with the government, is not only morally unacceptable, but also highly alarming and extremely myopic.One of the reasons why Kenya is facing a looming food shortage is that thousands of farmers cannot till their land as they are afraid of going back to their farms after being chased away due to the outcome of the just concluded election.It is therefore very irresponsible for political leaders to use these people as political bait to further their personal ambitions. That is the height of sadism.
But more so, this is a grim pointer to the levels that our politicians have gone to achieve their aims and what precedent such actions portend for the future.It is clearly emerging that a new style of political ransom is slowly taking root in Kenya, where disgruntled politicians use all means at their disposal, legal or illegal, to score political goals.This is a bad precedent for Kenya. This time round, the Government should not negotiate with the disgruntled MP’s who want their fellow country men to live in sub-human conditions. The supreme law of the land is clear and it should be followed to the letter.
The President and the Prime Minister should put their feet down and refuse to be held hostage by a group of disgruntled politicians and move swiftly to ensure that the internally displaced are quickly and securely resettled.Similarly, any politician who is found to be inciting the population to chase away and make it hard for the internally displaced from settling down, should face the full wrath of the law without mercy. The culture of political impunity should be brought to an end in Kenya and no one should be allowed to hold a group of people hostage like this.
We all understand the genesis of the land inequity in Kenya and we cannot simply wake up one day and seek to undo history. The colonial notoriety of land acquisition and the subsequent land redistribution mess under both Kenyatta and Moi regimes will not be tackled by torching houses, chasing and killing innocent people.
Finally, it makes sense for the Government to quickly step in and assist in compensating Kenyans who were affected by the political turmoil that beset this country.These were Kenyans who were paying taxes on the belief that the Government would do its part and ensure their property is secure but the Government has failed to fulfil its end of the bargain and should thus step forward and compensate its tax payers.That is the way forward.