Yatta land: The elephant in Kalonzo's political room

The 200 acres have become baggage for the Wiper party leader.

In Summary
  • Kalonzo has come under fire every election cycle over the Yatta land grab claim.
  • DP William Ruto last week ignited the political storm with claims that Kalonzo is a land-grabber.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka
Image: FILE

The Yatta NYS land grab claims have for decades become political baggage for Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

The 200-acre parcel has been used to politically cut him down to size every election cycle. Months to the next general election, the allegations have once again resurfaced.

Kalonzo's political rivals, led by Deputy President William Ruto, are rubbishing his credentials as 'Mr Clean' in an attempt to derail his campaign on the platform of zero tolerance to graft.

The former Vice President has changed his party's slogan to 'Kazi Kazi Bila Wizi' (work, work without theft). The anti-corruption crusade is promising to be a major debate as the 2022 presidential race shapes up, with opposition bigwigs appearing united against Ruto.

The Yatta land grab claims also headlined the 2017 presidential campaigns after some Jubilee leaders accused Kalonzo of illegally acquiring public land, claims he denied.

At the time, Kalonzo was Raila Odinga's running mate on the NASA ticket. They jointly ran charged campaigns to remove President Uhuru Kenyatta from power. 

“It is clear that the land is grabbed land, that is crystal clear. The issue that we should not question it because it has been grabbed by a member of the same community is taking us back to archaic politics of the yesteryears,” then TNA nominated MP Johnson Sakaja said.

Fast forward; days after Kalonzo hit out at Ruto claiming his "appetite for land grabbing is unrivalled", he is now under fire over the controversial land.

On Friday, Kalonzo presented himself at the DCI headquarters with papers showing how he acquired the land following the claims that he had grabbed it from the National Youth Service. DP Ruto's followers dismissed the move. 

"If he (Kalonzo) is a corruption suspect, why did he choose to go to the DCI and not the EACC, which has the specialised mandate on matters of corruption?” Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, a Ruto ally, asked on Friday.

He went on: "Can a suspect choose his investigator? The reason why he went to see [DCI chief George] Kinoti is simple dry cleaning. Ignore.”

Ruto had accused Kalonzo of doing nothing during his 40 years in government apart from illegally acquiring the Yatta land.

"You have been in leadership for 40 years without doing anything and your only record is that you are living on government land, which you have turned to be yours," the DP said.

Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen office
Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen office
Image: FILE

But Kalonzo on Friday said his opponents, including Ruto, fear his candidature and have now resorted to tarnishing his name.

“My political opponents know that my candidature poses a serious threat to their own ambitions, and are clutching at straws because the tides are about to change,” Kalonzo said after a session with DCI officers.

He challenged Ruto to also present himself before investigative agencies and open himself up for a thorough lifestyle audit.

As a public officer entrusted with the responsibility of Kenyans, DP Ruto must open himself up to a lifestyle audit and declare his wealth
Kalonzo Musyoka

“As a public officer entrusted with the responsibility of Kenyans, DP Ruto must open himself up to a lifestyle audit and declare his wealth,” he said.

In 2018, Kalonzo threatened to sue the government after the then-NYS director-general placed a 14-day eviction notice to the Wiper leader from the 200 acres on which his home sits.

“The department, therefore, does not recognise any claim whatsoever that any individual and/or entity has over the said parcels of land, whether through themselves, their agents, assigns or successors,” the notice read.

The notice was quickly seen by Kalonzo's allies as a political scheme by the Jubilee administration to force him to recognise President Uhuru Kenyatta who had controversially won the 2017 presidential duel.

"This land has never been the property of the NYS. It was allocated to Ketraco that eventually sold to me. The NYS was also allocated a share," Kalonzo said in 2018.

"The parcel belonged to the former Machakos municipality and was crown land. It was later allocated by former President Mwai Kibaki on the same presidential decree as that of the NYS.”

In 2017, Sakaja provided documents showing the land belonged to the NYS before it was subdivided into six portions, with Kalonzo having been allegedly allocated three of them.

Then suspended Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu was forced defended Kalonzo over grabbing claims.

“This land they are saying Kalonzo grabbed is in our Ukambani land and not on other people's land," Ngilu said in 2015 after a mention of a graft case involving a 134-acre Karen land.

On February 11, 2013, barely a month to a general election, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption confirmed in a letter to the NYS that it was probing fraudulent acquisition of public land in the service's Yatta scheme.

“To assist us to finalise our investigations, you are required to provide us with certified copies of the said title deeds and any other relevant documentation before February 13, 2013,” EACC's Abdi Mohamed wrote.

Documents showed that the NYS had also written to the chief quantity surveyor asking for clear-cut boundaries of NYS land LR number 22294, 22295, 22275 and 17762.

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