president a beneficiary of Ogiek land, claims newspaper
by John Kamau, Rights Features Service
23, 2002) Less than a month before the Ogiek case comes up at
the Kenyan High Court, some members of Kenya's parliament have
asked the president to reconvene parliament immediately to discuss
the allocations of Kenya forests.
in the wake of a disclosure by a leading Kenyan newspaper that
President Daniel arap Moi is one of the beneficiaries of the Mau
Forest land, where the Ogiek reside.
a Kenyan indigenous people, are fighting to remain in the forest,
which they claim is their ancestral home. The government is forcing
them out, allegedly to protect the environment. But the Ogiek
pose no environmental threat. Their case will be heard in court
on February 21, 2002.
Daily Nation recently disclosed that they had acquired
Ministry documents which revealed that prominent individuals had
received allocations of forest land.
of beneficiaries reads like a "who's who" of Kenyan
politics: President Moi allegedly received 2,317 acres; environemntal
minister Joseph Kamotho received 6 acres; former First Lady Mama
Ngina Kenyatta received 82.5 acres; and political activist Kuria
Kanyingi got 24 acres.
to the Daily Nation, this current attempt by the
government to excise an estimated 167,000 acres of forest was
a belated attempt to legitimize illegal allocations ahead of the
enactment of a more stringent Forest Bill. The bill gives parliament
the right to sanction alterations of forest boundaries, and is
expected to be published and debated during the next parliamentary
that it is evident that the whole Government, including the head
of executive, is involved in the whole saga, they should apologize
to Kenyans and resign in shame. This is the climax of all the
evils that could have been done in this country'' says Mwangi
Kiunjuri, an MP who took a motion to parliament last year calling
on the government to protect forest land.
Wanyiri Kihoro has proposed that the next government should recover
all the land and restore it to forest irrespective of who had
government has been justifying degazettement of forest land on
the basis that squatters will be settled on it. But it is a pity
that the land has gone to some of the largest landowners in the
country," said Kihoro.
It is not
clear whether Moi will reconvene parliament before March but the
current revelations will no doubt resurface at the House.
environmentalists are annoyed that senior government officials
and politically correct individuals are the beneficiaries of the
forest land allocations, and that the so-called "landless
and squatters" happen to be the richest people in Kenya.
In a statement
released from parliament building, the Parliamentary Committee
on Agriculture, Land, Environment and Natural Resources, asked
President Daniel arap Moi to reconvene parliament before March
to resolve the problem.
want the House recalled immediately to discuss this urgent business
because even before we went on recess, we had planned to overfly
all the forests to verify the facts from the grounds, whether
or not excision was taking place and its extent,'' said the Committee.
Minister Joseph Kamotho, has declined to comment on the continuing
logging and destruction of forests, especially in the Mau Forest
where the Ogiek community might lose their home bases if the forest
is cleared. The government hasthrough a gazette noticethreatened
to excise some 70 percent of the Mau Forest to "settle the
landless" but the Ogiek see it as an invasion of their traditional
members of the Ogiek community took to the streets this week to
demonstrate their anger over the continued destruction of Mau
Forest, a matter that has dominated local media for the best part
of this week.
the road leading to the forest but were dispersed by police.