In Summary
  • But looking at events in the last one year of the commission’s existence, there are numerous emerging concerns. Has the commission worked in the best interests of the country so far?

The National Land Commission was established to help manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments.

Besides the mandate spelled out in Article 67 of the Constitution, extra powers for the commission were bundled in through the National Land Commission Act and the Land Act.

These extra powers are tempered by some provisions of the Land Registration Act, which accords the Lands Cabinet Secretary and the Public Service Commission powers to establish land registries.

This effectively puts these critical “engines” of our land administration processes at national and county levels under the Ministry of Lands.
This law gives the commission peripheral roles in matters of land registries too. Little wonder we are now being treated to endless arguments on matters involving title deeds and who should sign them.

Stakeholders are not entirely surprised by the confusion. Following the promulgation of the Constitution in August 2010, the formulation of land laws was delayed, leaving little time for good background research and review.

These laws were rushed through Parliament in early 2012, just to beat the constitutional timelines. Due to their complexity, Parliament had to extend the timeline.

There were challenges over process too. To stop the furious turf wars in the short term, the laws must be amended to sort out any inherent conflicts.

But in the medium and long term, Kenyans must devise an appropriate model of a Land Commission. Arrangements in which the President and the Commissioner of Lands held sway over the allocation of public land were routinely abused.

While establishing the commission, it was assumed that professionalism would govern the allocation and management of public land to support national and local priorities. This is why the commission was anchored in the Constitution so that it could have reasonable latitude to make decisions.

But looking at events in the last one year of the commission’s existence, there are numerous emerging concerns. Has the commission worked in the best interests of the country so far?

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