MIUNGONI, LUNGALUNGA: JUST GIVE US OUR LAND
The people of Miungoni-Lungalunga want back their land, by all means necessary, as the National Land Commission and the County Government of Kwale sieves through the noises made by the Velji Parbat’s family.
When Haki Yetu first met the community early 2013, they said with complete conviction that the lease that had been granted to Velji Parbat was due to expire later that year. They might not have had the records then, but their strong will and zeal to fight for their rights triumphed the colonial tactics of intimidation and arrests employed by politicians and administration officials.
This plot 12224 in Miungoni….
- The 1,505 acre land was leased to Velji Parbat in 1973 for ranching for 33 years.
- On 1st June, 1980, Mr. Parbat applied for an extension of the lease through the Kwale County Council. He was granted 27 and ½ years, meaning it would have lapsed on 1st June, 2007.
- Parbat filed 7 cases when the community’s quest to have part of the land started in 1979. 185 acres was allocated to 37 elders when the court ruled in the community’s favour.
- 21st July 1993: With the 27 and ½ years lease still subsisting, Parbat applied for a 66 years extension of the lease, commencing 1st January, 2009. Extension was granted subject to Parbat hiving off 115 acres for Kwale County Council’s planning. Land under lease therefore was 1,200 acres.
- 20th December, 2010: Town Planning, Trade and Market Committee which is a subcommittee of the council met and resolved that Velji Parbat be given 400 acres for a lease of 33 years, County Council of Kwale to get 200 acres for planning of Public Utilities and 903 acres be granted to squatters.
- 6th August, 2012: Parbat’s son goes to court, files Miscellaneous Civil Application No.19 of 2012 to protest the committee’s resolutions.
- 14th February, 2014: Court rules that the decision to extend the lease by 66 more years stands since the committee is a creation of the Kwale County Council which authorized the same.
The love-hate relationship between Parbat and the county council was a concealed affair. Leases were extended without consulting the community, and local leaders did not make an effort to have the community represented in the case.
It finally dawned on the community that their elected leaders were sleeping with their enemy. This was when intimidation and harassment were quickly followed by arrests- apparently for ‘being too nosy’ on land matters well handled by their leaders.
Our arrival was swift: we immediately embarked on a journey to petition both the National Land Commission and the Kwale County Government to recognise the residents of Vanga as the rightful owners of the land. A total of 213 community members appended their signatures but the fear on their eyes was apparent-their colleagues had previously been arrested for meddling into the affairs of land under lease.
The National Land Commission finally made a move on 19th September, 2014. Through a public notice in the print media, it stated that the 99 year leases for Kidomaya, among other blocks in Tiwi, had expired in 2013. It added that those leases had never been extended or renewed, and had reverted to the County Government of Kwale.
As expected, the owners of the leased properties dashed to the High Court where Justices George Odunga and Isaac Lenaola issued temporary orders ahead of inter-parties hearings. Swazuri however affirmed that all these court battles are inconsequential and the county government will proceed with the reallocation to its logical conclusion.
The community is also prepared- ready to uncover the truths at the courts of law. Together with Haki Yetu, a survey was carried out and it was discovered that the Parbat’s family have barely used 300 of the 1,200 acres under lease. Their argument that they will suffer irreparable losses once the lease is cancelled, does not hold water in this case. Just give to Miungoni what belongs to Miungonians.
Figure 1: It is business as usual for the residents of Kidomaya, Lungalunga, despite ownership tussles facing this land. Kwale County Government has vowed never to extend the lease granted to the late Velji Parbat.