News 2008


Mau Forest evictions must be humane



The Government’s repossession of land in the Mau complex, justified given the complex history of corrupt dealings that led to settlement on public land, should be conducted as humanely as possible to avoid undue penalties on those living on the land.

The creation of an inter-ministerial task force to oversee the rehabilitation of the 400,000 hectares of the forest bodes well and the fate of all stakeholders will be considered.

The Mau complex, the source of 12 rivers, is a crucial natural resource endangered by years of poor governance and kleptocracy. The effects of the continuous excision of the forest had major effects downstream. The death of the forest could have far-reaching implications on the country and its neighbours.

Fifteen MPs from the region have spoken up following a Government order to illegal squatters in the forest to vacate by October 30. Politicising this issue may result in undesirable conflicts. Rather than whip up emotions, the MPs should participate more robustly in the stakeholder discussions and ensure their constituents with legitimate grievances get a hearing.

Merely compensating those being evicted from land for which they hold title deeds, however, will not satisfy the public. It is imperative that politicians who may have illegally acquired the land be held to account and made to provide restitution. This could be done as part of a larger land reform effort, addressing the wounds of old corruption.