Moses Wetang’ula and Governor Natembeya clash over evictions ordered by President Ruto

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Moses Wetang’ula and Governor Natembeya clash over evictions ordered by President Ruto

President William Ruto’s recent directive to remove illegal settlers from the Kitale prison land in Trans Nzoia County last month has ignited a new political controversy.

Governor George Natembeya of Trans Nzoia, who is determined to reclaim the 2,700-acre parcel of land, finds himself at odds with some Kenya Kwanza leaders who oppose the planned evictions, accusing Natembeya of instigating them.

This issue has escalated into a power struggle between Natembeya and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, with Wetang’ula asserting that no evictions will take place.

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During his visit to Trans Nzoia County on January 16, President Ruto ordered the illegal occupants of the land to vacate or face forced eviction, delivering this ultimatum to the residents of Kitale.

Ruto’s directive coincided with a series of demolitions across various parts of the country, such as Mavoko Sub-county in Machakos County and Kakamega, as the government aims to reclaim public land for affordable housing projects.

Amid mounting tensions, Wetang’ula visited Trans Nzoia last Saturday, meeting with local farmers affected by the looming evictions, shortly after the government began demarcating the land with beacons.

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Wetang’ula assured the locals that he would leverage his position to ensure that rightful landowners are not unjustly evicted.

“The government does things in an organised way and with civility because its work is to protect its people,” he said.

The Speaker, having received a petition from over 3,000 households in the area, expressed his intention to discuss the matter with the President to ensure that local residents are not displaced from the land.

“I am here to listen to you. The President knows that I am here. I will ensure our people do not suffer because owning land is not a crime,” said the National Assembly Speaker, who was accompanied by Senator Allan Chesang and Endebess MP Dr Robert Pukose.

On Sunday, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua observed the intense political dynamics surrounding the eviction plans firsthand, as a visibly irate Natembeya rebuked Kenya Kwanza leaders for purportedly linking him to the initiative.

Natembeya asserted that the eviction stemmed from a presidential directive and was a matter concerning the national government. He urged the Kenya Kwanza leaders criticizing him to desist from their attacks.

“I want to tell Kenya Kwanza leaders to leave me alone. Why are you going round claiming that I advised the President to evict people? I am not an advisor of the Head of State,” said the first-term governor who was elected on a Democratic Action Party Kenya (DAP-K) ticket. DAP-K is affiliated to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party.

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Mr Natembeya renounced any involvement in the dispute and warned Kenya Kwanza leaders led by Trans Nzoia Senator Allan Chesang against “spreading baseless propaganda.”

“I do not stand to gain from this land but I have said that we need affordable housing units in our town. The President launched the project and ordered people to surrender land for it,” stated the governor.

He questioned why Mr. Wetang’ula chose to meet affluent business figures in Trans Nzoia, who are reportedly among those facing potential evictions.

However, Mr. Wetang’ula, who was also present during Mr. Gachagua’s visit on Sunday, avoided delving into land-related matters, instead urging all elected leaders to collaborate for the betterment of Trans Nzoia residents.

Mr. Gachagua emphasized that the government would stand by its decision and urged Mr. Natembeya to align himself with the ruling administration.

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Moses Wetang’ula and Governor Natembeya clash over evictions ordered by President Ruto

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