Lands Act outlaws sale of settlement scheme plots

By Business Daily Reporter, May 13 2012

Internally displaced persons and other beneficiaries of public settlement schemes have been barred from selling or transferring the land under the newly-published Lands Act 2012.

The law says that any land acquired through a settlement scheme will not be transferable except through succession.

“Technically, this provision targets those who are allotted parcels within settlement schemes but later sell them off only to re-emerge elsewhere claiming to be landless and in need of settlement,” said Ibrahim Mwathane, an analyst on land matters.

idps land
idps land

An IDP camp in Nakuru last year. Newly-published Lands Act 2012 says that any land acquired through a settlement scheme will not be transferable except through succession. Photo/File

Programmes abused

Settlement programmes have previously been abused by some cartels who obtained parcels from the government only to sell them to other parties, creating an endless cycle of claims by people purporting to be landless.

This problem has particularly hit the Coast, Kiambu, Nyeri and parts of Rift Valley Province where thousands of families have lived as squatters for decades.

In the recent past, doubts have been cast on the authenticity of some IDPs — covered under 134(2) of the Act as “persons displaced by internal conflicts or other such causes that may lead to movement and displacement”.

Currently, beneficiaries can sell land at will as long as they have obtained title deeds. This loophole has seen some beneficiaries register land titles directly under the names of wealthy buyers for a fee.

The situation is bound to change with the introduction of a more stringent and detailed process of succession where a buyer would have to wait until the death of a willing seller before he or she can assume the title of the targeted land.

“The provision is mainly a deterrent to reckless transfers that leave a perennial cycle of landlessness,” said Mr Mwathane.

Some critics, however, questioned the wisdom of the new law.

National values

“This is unfair especially in instances where one would like to dispose of a portion of land to raise funds to offset some obligations such as food or healthcare.

“It means that the settlers in the scheme don’t have full rights like other land owners,” said Peter Gitau, a land dealer in Nairobi.

Besides tightening land transfers, the Act also seeks to improve the vetting of those who qualify for allocation of land in settlement schemes.

According to the new law, identification of beneficiaries will be carried out and verified by a sub-county committee that will include a sub-county administrator and representatives of the national and county governments as well as the National Land Commission.

 “Upon planning and survey, land in settlement schemes shall be allocated to households in accordance with national values and principles of governance provided in Article 10 and principles of the land policy provided in Article 60(1) of the Constitution and any other requirements of natural justice,” the Act 2012 states in part.

Analysts said the two clauses could come in handy in resettling families uprooted from their homes by the 2008 post-poll violence.