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Civilians Shame Politicians Behind Land Grab Ploy in Mwingi

Civilians Shame Politicians Behind Land Grab Ploy in Mwingi

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Published by Tisa Kenya
Civilians Shame Politicians Behind Land Grab Ploy in Mwingi
Civilians Shame Politicians Behind Land Grab Ploy in Mwingi

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Published by: Tisa Kenya on Aug 10, 2010
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08/10/2010

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Mr. Maki w s mag copsan fr h arce  ad at algy begd  hs fay 
PASCALINE NDILA 
MWINGI playing ground plot no.3157 islocated in the heart of Mwingi town andis an historical piece of land that lies inthe middle of two constituencies; MwingiNorth and South. The land was originally used for agricultural purposes but was later converted to a playing ground whenthe owner, Musee Nguue, gave it to thecommunity in the 1950’s long before titledeeds were allocated to land owners. Sincethen, the land has been used for sportingactivities and other public activities such asmeetings.Being a prime area for business activities,the land attracted the attention of privatedevelopers as well as the area councillors who had the intention of sharing it amongstthemselves. However, their attempts werethwarted by the local community.Local officials of the Kenya FootballFederation (KFF); Mwingi Traders Associationand the Centre for Human Rights and CivicEducation (CHRCE) all spearheadedthe fight against theinjustice. Thecouncillorsof Mwingi had earlier hived out some ofthe land and sold it to private developersand subdivided the rest of the land into 18plots which they planned to share amongstthemselves. When Yummen, a private developer erected a fence across a portion of theland, their plot was foiled as the thensports officer, Mr. Makau Kimani tipped offthe stakeholders that the land was beinggrabbed. The community decided it was timeto act and in February 2002, CHRCEorganized a community demand forum with help from other like mindedorganizations such as Kenya humanrights commission (KHRC) and Mwingi Trader’s Association. The community demand forum wasin the form of a demonstration whichtook place on a market day forcing allactivities at the market and the entireMwingi town to come to a standstillas traders joined locals and marchedthrough the town protesting againstthe attempted land grabbing that wouldhave left them without a playing groundfor their children. The councillors had no option but tosuccumb to pressure and surrenderedthe land back to the community.In 2002, area Members of ParliamentDavid Musila and Kalonzo Musyoka helda meeting at the playing ground whereMr. Kalonzo proposed that the ground berenamed Musila gardens.In financial year 2005/2006, both MPsallocated money from their CDF kitties witheach allotting Kshs. 500,000 to transformthe playing ground into the Musilagardens. According to Daniel Muoti a CHRCEofficer and Joseph Mutua, a resident ofMwingi this change of name and use ofthe land was a way of perpetuating thegrabbing of the land. “Since this project was meant to giveboth Musila and Kalonzo political mileage,they also constituted their own committeeand thus the project was not managedin line with the CDF act that stipulatesthat if a project is to be funded jointlyby two different CDF committees, it isa must that the project be coordinatedby the district project committee,”the two explain.Following this turnof events, CHRCE with support fromthe community went to courtin January 2007 and sued the Mwingi TownCouncil that was cited as the owner of theparcel of land no.3157. The legal action was aimed at stoppingthe council from changing the use of theplayground into a garden. “Consent to sue the council was givenby the district land adjudication andsettlement officer for Mwingi, but due tocorruption we lost the case,” reminisces theCHRCE officer. This setback did not make them losehope; they later engaged other like mindedparties to file a new suit which they toolost. A meeting was later held at the districtcommissioner’s office to inform thestakeholders of the plans to develop theplaying ground into a park. At this meeting, the sports officer, KFFofficials, Mwingi traders and officials fromcentre for human rights and civic education(CHRCE) were invited. The arguments presented by thestakeholders and the committee membersled to a number of resolutions, whichincluded: The name of the field would remainMwingi playing ground, the committee would be expanded to include the sportsofficer, Kenya Football Federation (Mwingi)official, and a human rights representativeamong others and that the dais which wasbeing constructed in the middle of the field would be relocated to an area outside thefootball pitch. According to Stephen Kampuni who wasthe chairman of the committee formedby the two Members of Parliament, hiscommittee was disbanded by Mwingi SouthMP Mr. Musila. “Our committee was disbanded for alleged mismanagement of the moneyallocated for the development of the fieldand for doing a shoddy job and failing toaccount for nearly Kshs. 1.2 million out of theKshs. 2.5 million the two CDF committeeshad allocated to the project (Kshs.1 million(2005/2006) and Kshs. 1.5(2006/2007),”claims Mr. Kampuni. To date, the field belongs to the Mwingi Town Council and both sporting activitiesand public meetings are held in this field. According to Nelson Kilonzi the senior  vice chairman of the football federation,the sports people and the communitymembers of Mwingi town have peaceknowing that their only field is safe fromgrabbers although the field is still beingdeveloped.He says both Mr. Musila and Mr.Kalonzo stopped funding the projectand development of the field was takenup by the Ministry of Youth Affairs andSports on condition that Centre for humanrights and civic education monitors all thedevelopment activities going on at theplaying ground. The ministry spearheaded the completionof the dais which locals had said shouldbe relocated; the fencing of the field and
Land grab:A win for the people of Mwingi
Civilians shame politicians behind land grab ploy in Mwingi
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