By Nicholas Olambo
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko has announced that second phase of eviction of illegal settlers in the expansive Mau forest are in the pipes. Previous attempts and evictions have come with weighty political ramifications. Attempts to evict people in 2010 was a bait that Raila fell to and earned him the divorced by his Rift Valley supporters. The manner in which that exercise was planned was majorly aimed at costing Raila his Rift Valley support than saving the forest from depletion.
Right now even before the launch of the second phase a couple of politicians from the region paid a courtesy call on Raila at the capital hill to urge him to push for the exercise to be humane. Why Raila, is he the government or environment CS? The the team that visited Raila was led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Franklin Bett. These are actually losers who seeking political comeback but without guts to join DP William Ruto’s side. Ruto is the kingpin enjoying strong support in the region but he has kept off Mau politics for the price that might come with it.
CS Tobiko made it very clear that the evictions will be without compensations. That should indeed be the case for illegal settlers with paper title deeds. The backward politics of Rift Valley that their people are being targeted will definitely come into play. Loud leaders in elective positions from the region are silent on the issue but former law makers are seeing it as a way to join to DP Ruto’s team. Politics in Kenya are tribal with many getting to elective position through euphoria. Supporting DP Ruto in 2022 will see many candidates in the Rift elected.
The timing is perfect for the rogue leaders who are always against the exercise. One, they know Raila is a busy body who will want to put his voice on everything especially this one. Two, Raila is a little confused with the referendum debate. Dr Ekuru Aukot’s ‘Punguza Mzigo’ bill is giving him sleepless nights. This then becomes an opportune time to drag him into Mau debate and have him lose more political support.
He will be very blind to get himself into Mau politics. The right person these leaders would meet is Tobiko. He has the constitutional mandate to handle matters as such but really why shouldn’t illegal settlers be evicted? Phase two targets to uproot over 40,000 families. As much the exercise should be humane the political heat generated around it should be ignored. Attempts to drag Raila and avoid Ruto is a sad tale that should not see the light day.
Mau forest is an important water tower, efforts to save it should not be undermined by petty politics, soil erosion and encroachment. Studies have shown a serious disaster unfolding. Rainfalls patterns are changing, rivers that originate from this expansive forest are also said to be receding. Politicians must grow up and learn to be leaders and let the relevant authorities deal with the issue. Effects of Mau destructions are felt even across the borders.Concerns have been raised in Tanzania that continued destructions are affecting the supply of water in Serengeti Park.
Reaching out to Raila is not a solution. These are the same bad leaders who opposed previous attempts to save the forest and they ensured Raila paid the political price. Its therefore on record that they mean no good for the forest. These are losers seeking a comeback, Raila should be smart to ignore them and completely keep off Mau politics.