Konza farmers await
NEMA's nod to split ranch
By Martin Masai
HUNDREDS of shareholders of Konza Ranching Co-operative Society are awaiting authority from the National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) to sub divide the 22,000 acre ranch into individual plots.
The wait has triggered apprehension among the 1,594 members, after indicators surfaced that some powerful power brokers were planning to round up the leadership of Konza ranching, herd them to court over fictitious charges and deprive the farmers the same way Malili members were swindled when their leaders were arrested and charged.
Top of the machinations by the politicians is the claim made to the Criminal Investigations Department that the current management led by Mr David Mutangili has already illegally sold Konza property to the tune of Sh 70 million.
This claim is being fuelled by propaganda in sections of the media that indeed the claim is true. The schemers have prepared a document in the Letter Heads of Konza Ranching, alleging that property belonging to Konza had been sold to, among others, the Chief of General Staff Gen Jeremiah Kianga for a total of Sh 70m.
Mr Mutangili explained to The Anchor that the figure of Sh 70m is the figure contained in tender documents for intended purchasers of the property and added that only Sh 28m had been received as proceeds of sale of some properties.
The claim of Sh 70m sales arises from a letter written to the CID by members Katambanga Mutisya, Mr Ngunga and Mr Katete, which they delivered under the escort of Malili Lawyer Eric Mutua.
For those alleging that society sold the properties at Sh 70m, it may be prudent to avail evidence that Konza received the payments. They can also indicate who paid what, when the payments were made and who received the payments. If possible, an audited account by com-pe-tent auditing firm would help convince the police that a crime has been committed.
It may be understandable for the poor old farmers if they miss out these evidential materials. But it would be inexcusable for their handlers if they want to advance such allegations without supporting facts.
Without that, any more utterances would be mere propaganda that would run only to annoy and frustrate Konza farmers and de-rail their efforts to become owners of their in-vestments that run through generations.
Mr Mutangili says that his committee was awaiting the go ahead to sub-di-vide the land. In case the go ahead is not forth-coming, Konza farmers are willing to go for a public hearing to seek to have the ranch sub-di-vided.
“Here, the likes of John Harun Mwau can come and present their grievances in the presence of Konza shareholders who own the ranch. We want to hear him speak the voice of the owners of the property- not the voice of Kilome constituents”, said a farmer Mr James K Kioko.
In April, a Special General Meetings of the ranch confirmed their resolve to have the ranch subdivided into individual plots of about 10.2 acres. At a charged Special Annual General Meeting, the farmers resolved to subdivide the ranch into small pieces for each share-holder for resale to the Government and other interested individuals.The ranch has members drawn from both Makueni and Machakos counties.
During the ,meeting, farmers told politicians, land brokers and other speculators to keep away from the ranch affairs warning they would take both legal and political action on any influential per-son trying to meddle in the affairs of the co-operative society.
Mr Mutangili told shareholders at the time that influential people were trying to meddle in the ranch by trying to implicate its executive Committee members of criminal activities with the aim of dislodging them from power and replace them with their own stooges who they could control.
He said the influential persons were trying to dislodge the leadership of the ranch in the same way they did to Malili ranching Company last year which saw powerful politicians fleece poor ranchers millions of shillings in shady deals.
He said police through the CID were being used to harass the executive committee members who he said have been grilled by CID officers more than four times on trumped allegations they had misappropriated society funds totaling to Sh70,000 from irregular sale of land. He said the officials had forwarded all accounting books of the ranch for investigations but accused a group of influential politicians and Government officials for being behind the allegations.
The ranch with 1,594 members straddles Machakos and Makueni counties and is the only viable and profitably ran co-operative ranch in the area.
Others have been ran down by successive corrupt management and control by influential land brokers and politicians bent on milking the co-operatives.
The thrust of the conspiracy is hinged on the need for land by both Government and individuals owing to the economic opportunities arising from the internationally acclaimed ICT Park set for construction in the former Malili ranch in Makueni County which borders Konza ranch in Machakos County.
The mood at the ranch is that it ought to be subdivided so that individual owners can sell their parcels on willing seller- willing buyer basis.
This determination springs from Malili where ordinary farmers have made millions out of the rush sale of land to speculators and investors from all walks of life who identify the corridor along Nairobi- Mombasa Road as the ultimate destination for development.