Land injustices play out in debate for Msambweni aspirants debate
Grievances around land distribution played out during a debate among contestants for the Msambweni seat.
The debate held at Diani, Kwale County, tackled various topics including legislation on minerals, tourism, education, security and health.
Four candidates out of eight participated in the debate organised by a human rights lobby group.
The candidates were Wiper’s Sheikh Mahmoud Abdulrahman, United Green Movement’s Hamisi Mwakaonje, Party of Economic Democracy’s Ali Mwakulonda and independent candidate Mansour Kumaka.
Mwakulonda claimed that there are no laws to address land injustices in the Coast region.
He said the National Land Commission has failed in its mandate to reform the land sector in the country.
“The coastal region has a unique problem of land injustices that has never been solved.
We cannot rely on the goodwill of politicians to solve land problems, we need laws,” he said.
Mwakulonda said if elected, he will push the amendment of the Mineral Act 2016 as it does not define who the community is, bringing major problems in the sharing of the 10 per cent of royalties entitled to the community.
Kumaka said he would turn idle lands in the constituency to productive agricultural activities.
“Most land in Msambweni is bare and therefore, I will encourage the people to practice farming on it, instead of depending on relief food from the government annually,” Kumaka said.
Mahmoud said he would push for locals to benefit from lands whose leases have expired.
“We have been made squatters because of the unwillingness by the government to ensure locals own their lands upon expiry of leases,” he said.
Mwakaonje said once elected, he would use diplomacy to resolve wrangles in the constituency.
“You cannot win the war on land problems by using force. We will sit with the concerned parties and amicably solve the land issues,” he said.
However Omar Boga of Orange Democratic Movement, Feisal Bader-an independent candidate, Mwarere Wamwachai of National Vision Party and Charles Bilali (independent) did not show up for the debate.
The organisers, Human Rights Agenda (Huria) said they had invited all candidates but only four showed up.
Huria Executive director Yusuf Lule asked Msambweni residents to make informed decisions before casting their votes.
“We are here to give a platform to the candidates to express themselves and not to judge them.
Let the residents be aware of leaders who cannot be sanctioned by civil society organisations,” he said.
The Msambweni seat fell vacant in March, after the demise of Suleiman Dori. The by-election is slated for December 15.
The contenders said they would put priorities on education, health, youth and women empowerment to create job opportunities.
They however differed on how the ling-standing issues of minerals and land should be addressed.