Senate to launch inquiry into Mwea Trust Lands row, summons Swazuri over role
Team comprising four committees to tour disputed land, listen to the affected persons and come up with a report top be tabled in the House
National Lands Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri is expected before a joint Senate team over unlawful demarcation and issuance of title deeds in the disputed 54,000-acre Mwea Trust Lands.
On Tuesday last week, Swazuri said the dispute pending in court over the Mwea Settlement Scheme would not prevent issuance of title deeds. Speaking in Embu, he said the title deeds of more than 7,232 beneficiaries will be issued, despite the case filed by the Kirinyaga county government.
Kirinyaga county claims it has obtained an order restraining the government from issuing title deeds to those who have already been allocated the land. Senator Daniel Karaba sought Senate intervention in what he called “Embu county government’s unilateral move to subdivide the land and issue titles”.
The probe team includes the Sessional Committee on Implementation, the Committee on Land and Natural Resources, the Committee on National Security and Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
They will launch an inquiry into the matter and table their report. “This matter is very important to the people of Kirinyaga. Tension is very high and it is important something is done urgently to prevent the situation from escalating,” Karaba said. He said the disputed land originally belonged to Kirinyaga residents but was “unlaw- fully hived off” to Embu county.
Karaba said the titles issued are illegal because there is a court order and Senate directive stopping Embu from demarcating and allotting the land. A boundary dispute is the main cause of conflict between the two counties, particularly between the nine Kirinyaga clans and the Mbeere and Kamba communities in Embu.
“The chairman [Swazuri] should explain why instead of addressing the issue of historical land injustices meted out to the people of Kirinyaga with regard to the Mwea Trust Lands, his commission is participating in an exercise meant to achieve the exact opposite,” Karaba said.
During the inquiry, the committees will tour the disputed land and listen to the affected persons before drafting its report for tabling.
‘A BOUNDARY DISPUTE IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTIES’
National Lands Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri at a meeting in Nairobi on August 9