Opinion and Analysis
Kanu should be told that KICC is public property
Posted Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 21:02
Political parties have been making filings with the registrar as per the law and this is turning out quite interesting details.
While so far few parties have had their details published, nothing beats Kanu’s filing. With an asset base claimed to stand at Sh4.5 billion, it is easy to see why a party generally thought to be past its sell-by date provokes struggle for control. It ‘owns’ property stretching from Mombasa to Kisumu, most of them prime.
Whether it has settled enough to do a property valuation is a matter the registrar might find important to explain in future. The same applies to all the parties whose balance sheets have been published so far.
But that is not our point. The most prime amongst listed Kanu assets is the Kenyatta International Centre (KICC). It is the most remarkable landmark in Nairobi.
As much as Kanu would want to claim ownership, a claim that the current administration has dismissed, we do not believe its case has a leg to stand on.
A bit of history suffices. KICC was constructed as the democratic space in Kenya begun to shrink under Kanu’s watch.
At the time Kanu was the de facto single party in Kenya, a position that would be dubiously cemented through section 2A in 1982.
Kanu would occupy the building until 2003 when the new Narc government seized it using executive order—rightly so, because it was public property.
Before that, Kanu run down the building down so much that it no self-respecting business or persons would use the international conference centre willingly.
The interior décor was falling apart, lifts were a rickety dark affair, toilets were dirty and ruffians were managing the national heritage.
On issuing the executive order in 2003, the Ministry of Tourism took over the facility and overhauled it completely. Today, it is the venue of choice for public, private and international conferences.
There are compelling reasons why Kanu should be told to forget KICC. First, public resources from the Treasury were invested in the construction, which alone should compel heirs of the party to shut up.
Two, a party that had brutalised everyone into silence, besides virtually removing alternative political choices, cannot be allowed to benefit from its almost criminal past.
The so-called Kanu members were just hapless Kenyans forced to contribute to KICC’s building. They should not be whipped into surrendering what is clearly public property.