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Activists in Kiambu protest against punitive Land Act

Civil Society Organizations (CBO’s) in Kiambu County, today, held peaceful demonstrations to protest against punitive tax measures in the County Valuation and Rating Act 2023.

The Act states that all freehold land in Kiambu, is ratable and allows the County government authority, to enter any private land for valuation and that any attempt to prevent this attracts a fine of Sh150,000 or six-months imprisonment.

Section 44 of the Act also allows the County to charge title deeds for the land rates in debt, through the Registrar of Lands.

KNA spoke to Wanjiku Thiga, who is  the Kiambu County Co-ordinator for Tupigane na Ufisadi (TUNU)’programme, which is being implemented by Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS), together with the  Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya) and The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA), with the objective of strengthen civil society’s role in advancing transparency and access to information, to fight corruption and impunity in the counties.

According to Wanjiku, the Act is not only cruel, but unconstitutional, as it was passed without public participation, as required by law.

“Section 45 of the Act gives the County Executive power, to sell through auction or private treaty, lands that has accrued unpaid land rates. This is barbaric as some of these lands, have been owned since independence,” she said.

She further cited that the group would be presenting a petition to the Kiambu County Assembly, signed by all stakeholders, asking Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) to repeal the Act.

“We will be marching to the County Assembly, to present our petition and plead with the MCAs not to be part of these injustice and completely repeal in totality the Act which would contravene the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” Thiga said.

Michael Mburu, Kiambu Bunge Mashinani clerk, who was at the demonstration, said the Constitution provided that the State shall not deprive a person of property of any description  unless the deprivation of land or title deed is for public purpose or public interest and is carried out in accordance with the Constitution.

“The Act even forbids landowners to sell, subdivide, develop or even lease the land if they have not been able to pay land rates from 2016,” cited Mburu.

While receiving the petition, Kiambu County Assembly Speaker, Charles Thiongo, said the Assembly was fully aware of the issue and would look into the matter, commencing today after the December recess.

“I acknowledge that I have received the petition and we promise to look at it and amend accordingly,” the Speaker said.

Thiongo added that the Bill was passed to correspond with the National Validation Act of 2015, and advised the civil society groups, to also file a petition at the National Assembly on the same.

While reacting to the issue during an interview with citizen TV, Kiambu Governor, Kimani Wamatangi, said his Administration found the Law in place, and asked Members of the County Assembly, to review it once they resume sittings.

By Grace Naishoo

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