Politics and policy
Make commission custodian of land register, say experts
Posted Tuesday, July 17 2012 at 19:42
The Ministry of Lands should be stripped of the power to maintain the land register over fears that the central government could frustrate efforts to audit illegally allocated public land, experts have said.
The Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI) — a land and resource management think-tank — is proposing an amendment to the law to empower the National Lands Commission to be the custodian of the inventory of all land.
The institute has pointed out a legal loophole in the land laws that provides for the commission to manage all public land on behalf of the national and county governments, but gives the role of maintaining an inventory of all land in Kenya to the Chief Land Registrar.
“Having the land register at the Lands Ministry will make it difficult for the National Lands Commission to execute its mandate of reviewing all grants or dispositions of public land to establish their legality,” said Ibrahim Mwathane, the chairman of LDGI.
“Corrupt officials at the ministry may take advantage of this provision to tamper with land records,” said Mr Mwathane during a press briefing to take stock of the two-month old land Acts passed by Parliament.
The National Land Commission Act (2012) mandates the commission to audit and establish the validity of all past transactions involving the disposition of public land within five years.
The statute further gives the lands body a two-year time frame to recommend to Parliament appropriate legislation to provide for investigation and settlement of claims arising out of historical land injustices.
The Land Registration Act (2012) provides for the appointment of a chief land registrar and the setting up of lands registration units at the county level where an inventory of all land sketches (cadastral map), land plans, title deeds, land applications and land proprietors will be maintained.
Mr Mwathane says the chief land registrar, county land registrars and land registrars will be based at the department of lands, a fact that goes against the spirit of delinking land administration from the national government to an autonomous agency.
Land registrars will have sweeping powers not only to issue title deeds, certificate of leases and preserving the land catalogue; but also to alter and determine boundary lines in demarcation of property.