Evictions loom: No turning back on Mau, State maintains

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
Mau complex residents leave the forest. Photo/PD/RAPHAEL MUNGE

Noah Cheploen and Hillary Mageka 

Families have begun leaving Mau as forcible evictions loom, even as the government says the exercise will be carried in a more humane way. 

The move has caused jitters at both grassroots and national levels with some politicians from both Maasai and Kipsigis (the dominant communities living in the area), holding separate meetings in the city—each pulling in opposite direction.

Maasai leaders led by Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, his Narok counterpart Ledama ole Kina and their two senators Philip Mpayeei (Kajiado) and Ledama ole Kina (Narok) threw their weight behind Environment CS Keriako Tobiko, who issued eviction notice two weeks ago.

  “If Narok suffers, Kajiado as a neighbour must speak. On this, we won’t relent. We must conserve our environment and it not negotiable,” Mpayeei told a press conference at a Nairobi Hotel yesterday.

Suspend exercise

But speaking to People Daily on phone, former Roads Minister Franklin Bett, one of those fighting the evictions, said separate meetings with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Environment counterpart Keriako Tobiko had resolved to put on hold the exercise for 60 days to give room for dialogue. 

Bett described their meeting with Tobiko as “very successful” saying that the minister had agreed to give dialogue a chance. 

“We agreed that the eviction should present a win-win situation for all the parties involved,” he said. 

Bett said Tobiko, had agreed to hold a joint meeting with Maasai leaders in a bid to find a middle ground and lower the rising political temperatures in the region. 

“We are all for the conservation of the environment but we are also saying that any effort to protect the environment should not be a source of misery to the people,” he said.

A section of Rift Valley leaders had on Sunday vowed to resist the exercise. Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Kericho counterpart Aron Cheruiyot accused Regional Commissioner George Natembeya of high-handedness. 

“There will be no eviction from Maasai Mau Trust Land until President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks. CS Tobiko, who is conflicted, has no moral authority to evict people against the law,” said Murkomen.

“We have asked Kenyans to stay put and our children to go to school like children of all other Kenyans!” he added. 

Yesterday, Bett accused some leaders of chest thumping and using foul language which, according to him, could jeopardise efforts for peaceful resolution issues. 

“They should stop talking like they will be in this world forever. They must exercise tolerance and humility,” he said. 

Last week, Natembeya said a list of 15 people who illegally allocated forest land to unsuspecting individuals had been forwarded to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for prosecution. 

“We have issued summons but unfortunately, some have already passed on,” he said. 

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