Powerful politicians are using poor locals as “human shields” in order to protect their commercial interests in the Mau complex, a senator has claimed.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said senior Government officials from previous regimes hived off parts of the Mau for tea plantations and illegal activities such as logging.
Ole Kina claimed the politicians, including former permanent secretaries and MPs, brought in people to use as cheap labour. The people then opted to settle there and earn extra income by plundering forest resources because they were being paid peanuts, he alleged.
His utterances coincide with Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko’s remarks that powerful individuals would soon be arrested after Government completes investigations into the encroachment of 14,000ha in the Mau.
“Those people who own huge chunks of land brought in labourers to do the illegal activities for them, for example planting tea and logging. Since they were paid peanuts, these people also got into activities such as logging and burning charcoal,” he said.
The senator dismissed claims that the settlers possessed title deeds and that some genuinely bought land there. He said they were instead being used as “human shields” through the creation of a “human misery” narrative so that the rich politicians could continue with their illegal businesses.
Kina said some of the richest people in Narok had made their living from logging in the Mau. He said the illegal activity was still going on and accused forest authorities for abetting it through corruption.
He ruled out compensation for those being evicted, saying it was difficult to determine.
According to him, most of those being evicted from the Mau have “second homes” mostly in other parts of Rift Valley. The legislator argued that it was the reason that politicians such as Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot were against the evictions.