By Nyasani Mbaka
Mukuru – we will not bulge
On Tuesday the 12th September, hundreds of city dwellers from the Mukuru belt, Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Maendeleo settlements converged at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park I what they called, “ The official legal battle of all times”. The agenda was a simple but powerful mobilising those affected by rampant land crabbing poor service delivery, insecure tenure, and in human evictions- which contravenes Kenya’s new constitution.
Muungano wa Wanavijiji coordinated and orchestrated this march of solidarity, bringing together a constituency of organised communities, pastors, legal experts, small scale traders and supporters of this quest. After more than three months of intensive mobilisation, mass general meetings, and administrative and logistical preparation, residents arrived in their masses at the Uhuru Park where they would later on match to the Milimani Law Courts to lay a claim on some of the lands within the Mukuru belt, that are in the hands of corrupt astute business people and well connected political figures.
The march was significantly spurred by the recent forced evictions of informal dwellers living in the industrial zone of Mukuru Kwa Reuben and Mukuru Kwa Njenga. The Mukuru settlement community lodged an immediate interdict against Kenya’s Former President Daniel Arap Moi, Subsequent Commissioners of Land during Moi’s tenure, an aspiring Presidential Candidate in the upcoming 2013 General elections; just to name but a few. The Slum dwellers were represented in court by a battery Lawyers associated by The Katiba Institute. This case, which is considered a catalyst of all past evils committed against slum dwellers by the wealthy and mighty, informs a more direct agenda for holding government to account.
Communities in Nairobi City have been taking the initiatives to dialogue with local and central governments for more than a decade now. Government has not been entirely responsive to any of these initiatives.
Kenya’s Minister of Lands, James Orengo" said he was not aware of the land grabbing cartel in his Ministry but will take time to act on some of the petitions and synthesized reports on some of the culprits involved in “auctioning of the Slum dwellers”, but will take time to investigate and report his findings to the Mukuru dwellers. He also reiterated that the community is exercising its right within the precincts of the constitution to seek justice over the land issue.
Leading the memorable peaceful demonstrations, Joseph Muturi, Ben Osumba and Evans “Papa” Omondi of Mukuru settlement from Muungano wa Wanavijiji. Papa said of the demonstrations, “We are here to support and protect our people from forced evictions engineered by selfish personalities who practice forced evictions without caring about the future of the urban poor.”
“We don’t want people to be homeless, in fact we demand security of tenure which we also hope the government is ready to negotiate thereafter demand housing for all”. Said, Joseph Muturi.
The peaceful march was indeed a success and Muungano wa Wanavijiji proved their point. However, the matter is currently before court and the federation will respect the outcome of the court process.