Kenya ex-president Moi admits grabbing land in Mau

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Daniel Moi, 94, has maintained a low profile since he left office in 2002.

By Daily Nation

Retired President Daniel arap Moi has, for the first time acknowledged he owns a stake in the controversial Kiptagich tea estate.

Mr Moi said that the land on which the factory stands is on the edge of the Mau forest and not inside the water tower. He said it was allocated to him by the Narok County Council. The former president spoke amid a storm of protests over reported proposals by the Cabinet to compensate Mau landowners.

Mr Moi said he only owned 25 per cent of the factory, with 75 per cent being owned by the public. He was speaking in Bureti District after attending a thanksgiving service. At the same time, two Cabinet ministers differed over the proposed pay plan.

While allies of Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta insisted that there were no agreed plans to compensate the ‘big fish’ who had settled in the Mau, Forestry minister Dr Noah Wekesa said three ministries are working on compensation details.

“Only the squatters are to be resettled. The ‘big fish’ will not be paid,” an ally of Mr Kenyatta, Mr David Murathe, told the Nation.

On Sunday, the Nation reported that a proposal to pay Mau landlords billions of shillings is headed for discussion by the Cabinet despite frantic denials a fortnight ago by Mr Kenyatta and Dr Wekesa.

The Sunday Nation revealed details of a Cabinet memo, which proposes to pay Mau landlords up to Sh8.7 billion for their holdings in the forest complex.

But Mr Murathe on Sunday said: “A Cabinet memo is just that. A memo. It has not been discussed by the Cabinet. Treasury has over 30 such memos, which have financing requests. The fact remains Uhuru will not pay anything.”

MPs amended a taskforce report on evictions from the Mau on September 15 and demanded that the exercise be carried out according to the Land Acquisitions Act.

The exercise has turned into a heated political battle which has divided the Cabinet amid confusion over the government position on the matter. Speaking to the Nation on phone, Dr Wekesa said the government will only pay for developments.

Elsewhere, the proposal has been opposed by religious leaders and lawyers. “This is not acceptable at all,” John Cardinal Njue said, adding that the Catholic Church had made its stand known before.

The only people who deserve compensation, ACK Archbishop Eliud Wabukala and former Kabete MP Paul Muite said, are third party purchasers who did not know that the area is gazetted forestland.

The two were speaking separately. Supkem director-general Abdulatif Shabaan said the proposal is a direct way of rewarding impunity.

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