President Mwai Kibaki has Abandoned IDPs: Part 1

During the 2007 presidential election, members of the Kikuyu community voted for President Kibaki to a man. Although Kibaki stole the Presidency through the conniving of the Kivuitu-led Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), the post election violence that ensued led to sporadic and cold-blooded murders of thousands of innocent Kikuyus while millions worth of property was also destroyed. Over 350,000 Kikuyus were converted into Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), especially in Rift Valley. While this article acknowledges that there are non-Kikuyu IDPs, it explores how Kibaki and the Kikuyu ruling elite have abandoned Kikuyu IDPs.

Historically, Kikuyus have been displaced from their ancestral land in Central province since the colonial era. Immediately after Kenya’s Independence in 1963, then-President Jomo Kenyatta took different steps to resettle landless Kikuyus, some of whom had been evicted by the colonialists, or had been displaced during the Mau Mau war. One of the worst attempts was Kenyatta’s secret arrangement to send hundreds of them to tsetse-fly infested Mpanda Settlement Scheme, in Rukwa region of Tanzania. Former President Julius Nyerere had offered refugees from neighboring countries free land to settle in Tanzania, as part of establishing the Ujamaa system.

Kenya’s then-Home Affairs Permanent Secretary (PS), R.E. Wright, wrote a letter on July 15, 1963 to all PSs, which stated that: “the project to send more Kikuyu families (to Mpanda) has been discussed with the prime minister who has indicated his warm support for the proposal. I would be grateful, therefore, if you could take charge of the project for this season and organize the sending of the largest number of families that you can within the finance available.” The Tanzanian government was to be paid 30 pounds for each family and a budget of 6,000 pounds had already been availed for the proposal.

In his piece titled: ‘Kenyatta’s plot to settle Kikuyus in Tanzania’ (Business Daily November 9, 2009), John Kamau revealed that the Mpanda Scheme deliberations were initiated on June 26, 1963, around 25 days after Kenyatta was sworn in as Prime Minister. There are documents at the National Archives showing correspondence and names of families targeted for the transfer, which was to begin on September 14, 1963. However, the selected families who were being housed on a farm coded ‘Nakuru Transit Farm’ in the Rift Valley, felt they were being penalized for allegedly having been Mau Mau freedom fighters. They sent a delegation to the lands and settlement PS, N.S. Carey-Jones, asking why the government could not settle them in Kenya.

Carey-Jones suggested that a political approach be used in settling the families in Kenya, instead of pushing them out. He wanted Lands minister Jackson Angaine or a Kikuyu representative, to visit Mpanda and assess if it was habitable. A protest letter by the Kikuyu farmers mentioned that Mpanda should not be used as a dumping ground, “for undesirable people in this country. We should consider Mpanda issue after Uhuru [Independence] and not before.” In a letter addressed to Kenyatta, they said that they did not want “to leave the country in exchange for another.” Eventually, the Mpanda Scheme attracted only four families from Uasin Gishu that had volunteered to go, against the planned 100 families. The offer was therefore not taken.

Kibaki benefited from land allocation
The process of transferring British-owned land to Kenyan peasants through the British-World Bank sponsored loan program named, Settlement Transfer Fund Schemes (STFS), was riddled with grand corruption. Jomo Kenyatta saw to it that those who benefited were only his close Kikuyu cronies, a few non-Kikuyu senior civil servants, and politicians.

In his book titled: ‘Politicized Ethnic Conflict in Kenya: A Periodic Phenomenon’, scholar Walter Oyugi noted that: “Using the political and economic leverage available to them during the Kenyatta regime, the Kikuyu took advantage of the situation and formed many land-buying companies. These companies would, throughout the 1960s and 1970s, facilitate the settlement of hundreds of thousands of Kikuyu in the Rift Valley.”

“Kenyatta cronies including Mbiyu Koinange, Njoroge Mungai and others devised a clever scheme to further benefit themselves from the land transferred from the colonialists. They formed land-buying companies through loans which were actually funded with tax-payer money. At the height of land buying companies, most of the power brokers acquired huge chunks of land at the expense of the landless, who were meant to be the initial beneficiaries of the scheme” (see: ‘Who owns the land? Blood and soil issues in the Kenyan Rift Valley’).

According to Jennifer Widner (1992), “by 1971, more than 60 per cent large-scale farms around Nakuru and 40 per cent of small scale settler farms, were held by Kikuyu, who fared very well from this arrangement, at the expense of other Kenyan communities (in: ‘The Rise of A Party-State in Kenya: From “Harambee!” to “Nyayo!”’).

In his memoirs, ‘Kenyatta Struggles’, former Central Bank Governor Duncan Ndegwa, explains that Kenyatta initiated the type of settlement farms called “permanent improvement units”. This was after realizing that some Africans had taken over a mansion with 24 rooms abandoned by a white settler, yet could not maintain its high standards and lit charcoal braziers in it. He was disappointed and decided that such property must be protected. According to Ndegwa, who was also Kenya’s first head of civil service, Kenyatta ordered that from then henceforth, “any farm that had such property would be given to individuals in lots of 100-acres.” On that particular day, Kenyatta and Ndegwa had been in Ol Kalau, parceling out land with some settlement officers. At the end of the exercise, Kenyatta seized one permanent improvement unit surrounded by a beautiful orchard for himself and sighed, “Ni ka minoga” (it is for hard work).

The parceling out of 100-acre plots (code named Z plots) to the elite, was not what the British had anticipated when they set up the STFS. Although other tribes were affected by landlessness, the Kikuyu were worst hit because the British had occupied huge areas of Central province and many had been pushed into the forests during the Mau Mau war. Records indicate that some had also gone to work on white farms in the Rift Valley. However, Kenyatta overruled efforts to do away with the 100-acre plots’ system, when he found out that the British and a few Kenyan government officials felt it digressed from the original plan of settling the poor, in former white occupied prime land.

Kenyatta began dishing out land free of charge, contrary to the STFS program. John Kamau wrote in Business Daily (November 10, 2009), that the process behind purchasing the Z plots was so secretive that only Lands minister Angaine and a few civil servants knew about it. The agreed land purchase had turned into land ‘allocation’. This was the beginning of land grabbing and impunity, with the full support of Jomo Kenyatta. Former freedom fighter Jesse Kariuki, was allocated land by Kenyatta without paying a penny. When the then Lands PS, Peter Shiyukah, asked Director of Settlement Maina Wanjigi, to compile a list of the big shots who had been allocated land, he realized that there were many others whose names appeared at the Lands ministry, but not on Wanjigi’s list. One of them was Mwai Kibaki, then-Finance assistant minister.

In the publication ‘Who owns the land? Blood and soil issues in the Kenyan Rift Valley’, the following background is noted on Kibaki’s land ownership:

“One of President Kibaki’s earliest grabs is the 1,200-acre Gingalily Farm along the Nakuru-Solai road. And in the 1970s, Kibaki, who was then the minister for Finance under Kenyatta, via STFS transferred to himself, 10,000 acres in Bahati from the then Agriculture minister Bruce Mckenzie. Kibaki also owns another 10,000 acres at Igwamiti in Laikipia and 10,000 acres in Rumuruti in Naivasha. These are in addition to the 1,600 acre Ruare Ranch.”

How could Kikuyu peasants and the landless benefit, if the 100-acre package had already been hijacked by Kenyatta and his Kikuyu cronies? It meant quite a few rich members of the community owned so much land, shutting out the majority poor. Ironically, many of those big shots defaulted in loan payments and the poor Kenyan taxpayer was left with the burden of paying back to the British, a loan they barely knew about, let alone benefited from. Among the many defaulters were Cabinet ministers Jackson Angaine (Lands) and Gikonyo Kiano. John Kamau wrote that: “An experiment to settle the landless and put them on the road to prosperity had collapsed even before it began. ”Continued in Part 2…

Jared Odero

15 comments

  • PRESIDENT Kibaki prefers that elections should be held in December, according to some of his family members and close confidants. Kibaki, according to multiple sources, wants to avoid any controversy that could follow the expiry of his second five year term on December 31, 2012. “Mzee has made it clear that he wants to finish his term, hand over and proceed to his new Solio ranch soon after,” said a Kibaki confidant.

    The President would apparently prefer to have wants elections held well before Christmas this year so that Kenya have a new President by January. “Officially he is consulting with many relevant people before meeting Prime Minister Raila Odinga later to discuss the possibility of dissolving the coalition by around October so that elections can be held in December,” said another associate close to the head of state.

    The ‘Solio’ property is the former Sasini Estate and was formerly used for growing coffee and rearing grade cows. The 1,000-acre farm is situated near Mweiga town on the Nyeri-Nyahururu Highway in Kieni West district. A palatial Sh500 million home with an airstrip has been constructed there. Kibaki also has homes in Nairobi’s Muthaiga and Othaya, 25 kilometres from Mweiga. The First Family also has a 1,700-acre Rware farm in Narumoru town in Kieni East.

    Kibaki can expect a luxurious life in retirement with 38 servants paid by the public. He will collect a Sh17 million lump sum gratuity from government and will receive a Sh950,000 tax-free monthly pension, a housing allowance of Sh300,000, Sh300,000 as electricity, water and telephone allowances; and a further Sh200,000 monthly as entertainment allowance. He will also be entitled to two four-wheel drive cars.

    Some Cabinet ministers are still in favour of the December 17 date proposed by Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo in his Constitutional Amendment bill 2011 which is currently before Parliament. It has however been superseded by this month’s court ruling that elections should be in March 2013 unless Kibaki and Odinga dissolve the coalition government earlier.

  • It is encouraging refreshing to see articles that help to bring the suffering of Kenyans in focus and to the attention of everyone concerned with the wellbeing of the people of Kenya. This is evidence of the awakening that is sweeping through the ranks of ordinary Kenyans and our leaders of tomorrow, especially in the Diaspora at large. We recognize and affirm the general opinion that the country is not being governed towards uplifting the lives of its citizenry. What is conspicuous in this awakening is the total silence from those elected by the Kenyan electorate. Kenyan Ministers and the majority of decision makers are elected to office and not nominated by presidential decree. Their silence and lack of engagement in any cause that benefits the people of Kenya does not surprise the ordinary mwanainchi since this has been the trend since our so called independence. We naturally, quite rightly too, direct our displeasure and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs at the President since he is the designated leader of the nation. However, no President rules alone and executes policies by himself. It is therefore self-evident that he is carrying out his duties in the best interests of those benefitting from his kind of governance. The question that then arises is as to who are these beneficiaries?

    As stated earlier there is complete silence from those elected to serve as holders of public office. History has given us examples where holders of public office have resigned or refused to enact policy that is detrimental to the interests of those that elected them. In Kenya, this is quite the opposite. Power, affluent living and political patronage perpetuate the status quo with tremendous rewards for those that master the game and they live their lives like kings, the world is their oyster. Unless of course they get too greedy and, following recent developments in the West are banned from travel or charged with offences at International Court of Justice, are free to enjoy their illicit wealth right in the face of a destitute electorate. The only reason this kind of person would protest or raise their voice in indignation is when their pot has been toppled over or has been excluded from partaking of the spoils of power. This is when they rally the communities they come from, skillfully convincing them that their communities are being targeted and the powers that be are out to finish them. They become the champions for what is right for their own community, agitate and propagate for change citing that they too have a right to lead the country with clever innuendo laced with tribal sentiment promising better fortunes for those that take up the gantlet of strife in their name. The resulting havoc from following a person of this caliber should be discerning to the most average Kenyan with at least a rudimentary education and was plain to see in the aftermath of the last elections where mayhem was released. Kenyans awoke to a nightmare that would have been prevented if only a few of our leaders had any moral fiber, sense of honor and nationalism.

    These so called leaders hold their peace and practice the adage of silence is golden because they are the beneficiaries of the forty-year old political strategy to deny Kenyans their birthright. Kenyans are adept at conjuring up excuses for leaders from their own communities claiming that they are inculpable because they cannot be in league with the President because they do not belong to the same community, tribe as we call it, or they are doing the good they can from within the system, or that everything would change if only their man had power. The excuses run on and on. The fact is they are all in cahoots, bitter enemies publically but bosom associates otherwise. They meet over drinks and dinner at exclusive member clubs, give their children in marriage to each other and assist each other to maneuver their kin to the best employment opportunities, seek educational and medical services abroad etc. What about their ardent defenders and supporters? They have little if anything to show for their unflattering faith and unquestioning demure. I am reminded of the movie “The Matrix” and see parallels with what is happening in Kenya today.

    While I may make concessions for the illiterate, I am always taken aback when the average Kenyan disintegrates rapidly into mediocrity when disseminating propaganda that is clearly veiled and woven in tribal sentiment. It is obviously deliberate and an attempt at generating opinion sympathetic to the cause of escalation of tribal politics in order to maintain the status quo even in our minds. This is a clear indication that despite what we would like to believe, there are Kenyans amongst us that only see our struggle for a better Kenya for all as a call to the war of tribes.

  • O.Hatari: that’s quite an input you have added. While the main Ocampo Six – Uhuru and Ruto who have now been confirmed by ICC as having been direct contributors to the 2008 PEV are worshipped by their blind followers (tribes) the IDPs continue to wallow in man-made inhumanity. The defeaning silence greeting their plight, even in the Diaspora, is just disheartening. Very few voices represent Wanjiku, since the rich have their priorities focused elsewhere. Kibaki is soon retiring to a palatial home worth 500 million shillings, while his Kikuyu IDPs rot in camps.

  • Thank you Samson! At least one person seems to agree with me.

    Remember the day in Uhuru park when NARC ascended into power with Kibaki in the helm? The days of “Kibaki tosha”? What exactly made those parroting “Kibaki tosha” do a complete about-turn come 2007 elections? Was it a change in political convictions? Was it the unacceptable levels of corruption? No! The cause is what I term as the “Njonjo syndrome”. When Charles Mugane Njonjo threw his weight behind Moi in the succession question after Kenyatta’s death, he thought by ensuring Moi’s elevation from VP to President, he would be able to rule Kenya by proxy. He then plotted to position himself for the Presidential docket and that backfired resulting in the traitor trail and political oblivion. The “giraffe of politics” had seen through his game plan. Remember the party NDP and its incorporation into KANU? The attitude then was half a plate of ugali was better than none at all. Well the “giraffe of politics” made certain they went home without that half plate of ugali when he introduced a project of his own. Where is the project now? Sweating bullets I presume.

    Another thing, the oppressive evil KANU is dead politically or so was the Kenyan electorate duped into believing when NARC came into power. What do Kibaki, Kalonzo, RAO, Mudavadi, Ruto, Kenyatta Jnr (Uhuru) and even Kinuthia-Saitoti share in common? They at one time all swore allegiance to KANU, walikuwa KANU-damu. A party is not a living entity but its members are, so KANU basically reinvented itself to NARC, then into PNU and ODM and are still in power. Poor Kenyans! Wanasubaishwa na ukabila, it is our turn to eat propaganda. Moi once said KANU would rule forever, and it seems that plan is still on course. One journalist even remarked on this phenomenon in one of Kenya’s Newspapers. By the time these people are through with Kenya, the President that finally comes along if any we inherit a bankrupt and emancipated country the likes of Somalia. Let us continue to assist them by focusing on the tribal differences that separate us and not the similarities that bind us as a nation.

  • General Kiguoya Kibaki has today reordered the resettlement of all IDPs. We wait to see if this will happen. He now pretends to sympathize with the poor.

    The President also chose to restart the resettlement programme for victims of post-election violence on the day charges against his key officials were being confirmed for being behind the evictions back in 2008.

    “We re-dedicate ourselves to assist those who were displaced from their homes. In this regard, I have already directed all relevant government ministries to fast track the resettlement of the remaining Internally Displaced Persons,” said Mr Kibaki.

  • MAWINGU IDPs INVADE WIYUMIRIRIE LAND .
    Thursday, 16 February 2012 13:04 Solomon Kirimi

    IDPs from the Mawingu camp have started moving into the Wiyumiririe farm even before the government completes subdivision of the land for their relocation. Their leader Peter Kariuki says the families fear that thaty this opportunity may be lost and plan to march the 80 kilometres from the camp to the farm on Monday.

  • Minister: We have no cash for IDPs

    By MARION NDUNG’U

    The Ministry of Special Programmes has run out of funds to resettle displaced people.

    Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi yesterday said the ministry had no capacity to settle over 350,000 displaced persons.

    Murugi said for the ministry to settle all the affected families, including those evicted from Mau Forest, the ministry needs Sh200 billion.

    “We need 880,000 acres of land to settle these families. We recently adopted the IDPs policy paper and we are waiting to see what is the way forward,” said Murugi.

    The minister said her hands were tied, as she has to seek money from the Treasury to realise the goal.

    “Until my ministry is facilitated, I can’t help them, the only thing I can do is provide them with food,” Murugi said in Nyeri where IDPs camping at Ruring’u Stadium held a demonstration. The group has defied a Government directive to leave and has vowed to stay put until they are resettled.

    Yesterday, Murugi asked the IDPs to return to their districts where they would receive food aid through their respective district commissioners.

    The integrated IDPs who have been camping outside Ruring’u Stadium for a month had matched to the provincial commissioner’s office where they presented a petition.

    Deputy PC Francis Sila said they were in the grounds illegally since the camp had been closed.

    Murugi said although they would not be forcibly removed even if they refused to leave, they would only get help from their respective districts.

    The minister claimed some of the IDPs were not genuine and were being used politically. She said some politicians were using them to settle scores but warned that they would meet on the political arena.

    Peter Gitahi the co-ordinator of the IDPs denied claims they were being used by politicians.

    “We are genuine, we do not know why the minister is saying otherwise,” said Gitahi. The IDPs leaders, county commissioner Michael Mwangi, the deputy PC and the minister held meeting over the issue.

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