MAU CONSERVATION DRIVE

Cabinet session chaired by Uhuru approved Mau Forest evictions

Senator accuses President Kenyatta and DP Ruto of reneging on their pre-election promises.

In Summary

• The senator said the duo promised, during campaigns, to re-settle and compensate all families inside and around the Mau forest.

• The vocal legislator spoke moments after government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said the Cabinet approves the relocation of families from the area.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei at Parliament Buildings
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei at Parliament Buildings
Image: FILE

The Cabinet approved the relocation of families from the Mau Forest complex, government spokesman Cyrus Oguna has said.  

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Oguna said that President Uhuru Kenyatta chaired the Cabinet session that ratified the decision.

He said that there was nothing ‘special about Mau’ as the government will also relocate families living in Mt Kenya and Aberdare forests.

“Eviction of people from Mau catchment areas has to go on to save this country, but this will happen in a humane manner. The right word is actually a relocation of families and not an eviction,” he said.

The spokesman reiterated that the rights of all those living in Mau and other targeted catchment areas will not be abused.

“Mau is the most important of the five critical water towers that feed our major rivers that help in achieving food security, yet it is greatly endangered. People must leave,” he insisted.

The statement deals a blow to Rift Valley leaders who have been pushing to stop the Mau evictions. 

The politicians have accused Environment CS Keriako Tobiko and Narok county commissioner George Natemebeya of unilaterally sanctioning the evictions.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen claimed the evictions were not sanctioned by the Cabinet. 

Murkomen said Tobiko and Natembeya were executing ‘personal agenda’ of diving communities living in Mau.

The Elgeyo Marakwet senator claimed that the 60-day notice given to the locals to leave was illegal and called on the residents to ignore it.

“We have called out Tobiko and Natembeya for insubordination and carrying out a process not backed by a Cabinet decision,” he said.

Yesterday, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to state their stance on the evictions.

The vocal legislator spoke moments after the statement by the government spokesman.

Cherargei accused President Kenyatta and DP Ruto of reneging on their pre-election promises to resettle and compensate all families inside and around the Mau forest.

“I demand that the President comes clean and states his position on this matter. We shall not keep on speculating on whether his promise to those voters in Mau Trust land has changed,” he said.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament, Cherargei said, “He [Uhuru] must tell Kenyans the exact position of government in regards to phase two of the Mau forest complex evictions."

The Legal and Justice Affairs Committee chairman said there has been contradictory reports from various state officers and political leaders. 

Therefore, he said, the President and his deputy needed to make it clear to the public their position on the Mau Forest complex.

“It should not be that some state officers are acting for their own selfish interests,” he observed.

According to him, there is no Cabinet memo that okayed eviction of the more than 60,000 families as alleged by Tobiko.

Cherargei said that even though they don’t dispute conservation efforts on water towers, the Mau evictions must be done within the law and at the very least observe the basic minimum rights.

“What is happening in Mau is a trample on virtually every human right including education and health guaranteed by Article 43,” the senator said.