News 2008


The Mau must be saved at all costs

Daily Nation


18. July 2008

The Government must move firmly and with determination to clear the Mau Forest of illegal settlement, while addressing the concerns of all those affected who deserve a sympathetic and humane solution. On that there must be no compromise.

Rabble-rousing politicians must not be allowed to introduce selfish and divisive designs into a resource whose conservation is a matter of life and death for millions beyond the immediate confines.

The latest attempt to takes steps that will lead to the rescue of the important water catchment is in the series of consultative meetings convened by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Unlike previous burn-and-destroy missions, the present initiative is an all-inclusive process that brings together a large variety of interest groups, including local people and their councillors and MPs, conservationists, and development organisations.

The discussions studied the scope of the problem and determined that the most important water tower in the region cannot be allowed to dry up because of uncontrolled human influx.

It was agreed that the Mau would be properly demarcated and secured, and all those residing or engaging in illegal activities moved out. It was also agreed that the Government would consider cases of all those deserving resettlement and compensation.

No sooner had the resolution been reached, however, than a group of MPs from the area politicised everything.

The Mau is too important an asset for the entire East African region to be reduced to a dispute between politicians from the Maasai and Kipsigis communities. And it is far too important to be misused as a weapon of blackmail in the internal rivalries within ODM.

It was sad to witness MPs uttering ethnic war cries over the Mau at the Tuesday meeting.

Even worse was the subsequent press conference when the MPs, who asked their constituents not to vacate the forest, introduced their own grievances within ODM.

That exposed them for what they are up to. They must not be allowed to derail a most noble mission.