The State has proposed through a bill for Lands secretary Farida Karoney to issue land leases for private land, setting stage for the turf wars with the Swazuri-led commission that have dogged the ministry since the 2010 Constitution took effect.
The review of the Land Act through the proposed Statute Law (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill will empower the land secretary to issue private leases, relegating the National Land Commission (NLC) to just registering the approved documents.
The law has been silent on who is responsible for renewing private leases, setting a fight between the land ministry and NLC.
“The Bill proposes to amend the land Act, 2012, to introduce a new provision which provides that a leases or licence for private land be issued by the Cabinet Secretary and registered by the Chief Land Registrar,” says the Bill.
Section 23 (2) of the Land Act expressly mandates the NLC to issue leases or licences for public land before they are registered by the Chief Lands Registrar.
The law has however been silent on the treatment of the private land leases, prompting the review of the Act.
During her time as land secretary Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu frequently clashed with NLC chairperson Mohamed Swazuri over who has the power to issue private leases.
In the case which dragged in courts before the two officials were ordered to reach an out of court agreement, Dr Swazuri insisted that land registrars and surveyors fall in NLC’s docket, something Ms Ngilu contested.
Article 67 of the Constitution establishes the NLC to manage public land on behalf of national and county governments.
Both the Land Act and the NLC Act give the commission power to register, manage and issue title deeds.
Dr Swazuri also sought solace in Section Six of the Lands Act which specifies that the Cabinet Secretary should develop policies upon recommendation of the NLC and facilitate implementation of land reforms.