Political leaders in Taita-Taveta County have defended the late Cabinet Minister, Eliud Mwamunga against allegations of land grabbing and instead termed him as a staunch defender of community’s land rights.
Led by veteran politician, Mashengu wa Mwachofi, the leaders said Mzee Mwamunga was instrumental in the formation of group ranches that safeguarded the community land against being grabbed by outsiders.
Speaking during a requiem mass at ACK Cathedral site on Friday, the leaders termed as misguided and malicious reports that the late minister, who passed away on Saturday last week, had used his position in government to amass vast tracks of land for himself.
“Those who talk about land grabbing by the late minister have no idea the role he played to make sure our land remained safe,” said Mashengu.
He added that Mzee Mwamunga was forced to create Voi Development Company to secure prime land in Voi sub-county against grabbers.
Similar sentiments were echoed by former Taveta MP, Mwacharo Kubo who termed the deceased as a selfless leader who worked for the sake of the community.
Kubo said as a clerk of the defunct Taita-Taveta County Council in the 70’s, Mwamunga was instrumental in persuading councilors to formulate a draft policy that saw the formation of group ranches in every location of the expansive region.
Other leaders who eulogized the late minister as a true example of a servant leader included, former Wundanyi MP, Thomas Mwadeghu and former Senator, Dan Mwazo.
The Kilifi Senator, Stewart Madzayo said Mwamunga set high standards of leadership and would be missed to offer political advice to the current leaders.
In a speech read by County Commissioner, Rhoda Onyancha, former President Mwai Kibaki termed Mwamunga as an icon of political correctness and noted the county had lost a hero. “He was a friend, a confidant and a cabinet colleague,” read part of the speech.
Mzee Mwamunga was also hailed for his commitment to religious matters including donating several land parcels for public use like churches and playing grounds. He died at a Mombasa Hospital while undergoing treatment for a gastrointestinal infection.
The late Mwamunga is one of the prominent land owners in the region. He had a successful political history that saw him serve in both Kenyatta senior and Moi’s government.
He also served as Voi MP for two decades 1969 to 1988 as a KANU legislator. During Kenyatta’s time, Mwamunga served as Water, Commerce and Industry Minister.
In Moi’s government, he headed Information and Broadcasting docket before moving to Lands and Settlement. He lost his parliamentary seat in 1988 and would later join Mwai Kibaki in launching Democratic Party (DP) in Coast region.
He will be laid to rest in his Nebo Farm in Sagalla on Saturday.
By Wagema Mwangi