News 2008


Does coalition have will to resolve Mau crisis?

Daily Nation


Friday, July 25 2008 at 20:48

In Summary

- A government that canít guarantee security of its citizens is not a government.
- Task force mandated to deal with the issues of resettlement and compensation.

If the grand coalition Government does not resolve the Mau Forest saga it will prove to Kenyans and the rest of the world that it doesnít deserve to rule.

A government that canít guarantee national survival and security of citizens is not a government in the community of civilised people.

That the Mau Forest is a lifeline of Kenya and critical for its national survival cannot be debated.

Various columnists have dwelt at length on the impact the Mau destruction will have on energy, tourism, tea, and the livelihoods of Kenyans and Tanzanians.

The effects of its destruction are being felt as water levels in rivers and lakes reduce. The destruction must stop and its rehabilitation started.

Very little discussion, if any, has been accorded the issue of national security. What is called the politics of the crisis is a euphemism for ethnic strife and water wars among communities.

AFTER THE JANUARY VIOLENCE, should Kenyans not realise that water wars will be more vicious and unrelenting than wars on last yearís election results?

What is also forgotten is that the destruction of Mau Forest could result in a definite war between Kenya and Egypt.

Those who have been debating the legality of the waters of the Nile will tell you that the forest is one of its core sources. The Mau forest crisis is not an internal affair as our politicians seem to think.

The Government has set up a taskforce to address the crisis. The question, however, is whether it has the political will to resolve the issue? For this political will to be displayed the following must be done as soon as possible.

First, the taskforce may perform the role of calming political alliances in ODM and PNU, but this issue is bigger than both parties and their perceived importance to Kenyans.

Secondly, the team should be mandated to deal with the issues of resettlement and compensation. The fencing off of the forest and its rehabilitation should have started yesterday.

Previous regimes have perfected the appointment of commissions or taskforces to defuse tensions and use them as projects of political cowardice. The Mau crisis calls for swift action to prevent a disaster.

There is need for massive civic education on the consequences of destroying the Mau and any other forest that is a lifeline to the survival of Kenya.

Kenyans need to know how the rehabilitation of Aberdares Forest, for example, has resulted in higher water levels in the rivers that flow from there.

Kenyans ought to know that the catchment areas donít benefit the communities that are speaking out ó the Kalenjin, Maasai, Luo ó but is critical to the livelihood of all citizens.

Is it difficult for a Mkamba peasant to understand that interfering with the water catchment areas on Mt Kenya and the Aberdares will hurt her livelihood?

The material on the criminal and illegal allocation of the forest exists and only requires analysis and interrogation.

The Ndungíu Report should be implemented religiously.

Kenya needs to put an end to this destructive greed that allows some people to rape their motherland, desecrate nature and then disappear with the ill-gotten wealth to other countries as the country bleeds.

The Government can confirm to Kenyans that it is serious about reforms on the Constitution, truth, justice and reconciliation, corruption, education, HIV and Aids and others if it handles the Mau crisis with fervour and patriotism.

THE CRISIS TEACHES US THAT the land question will never go away and populist reforms like the ones Lands minister James Orengo comes up with occasionally simply scratch the surface of the problem.

Who is going to tell Kenyans that there will never be enough land for all of them? Who will tell them that there are pieces of land they cannot cultivate, desecrate or settle on?

Does any Mugiriama ever think of cultivating a kaya? Why are water catchment areas not sacred? When will Mr Orengo talk to critical land owners in Kenya to find out whether they are ready for reforms that will save the country from catastrophe?

It is time the critical land owners woke up to the reality that the status quo on land in the country is unjust, immoral, selfish and threatens national security.

Is the grand coalition ready to signal its determination to secure the lives and livelihoods of all Kenyans by addressing the broad land question?