EXCLUSIVE: The ghosts of South Ngariama land grabbing that won’t leave Martha Karua alone

A long time ago, during the early years of independence, throughout Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s stint in power, and the subsequent first decade of the Nyayo regime, when President Daniel Arap Moi bestrode Kenya like the proverbial colossus, ruling with an iron fist, when the democratic space we enjoy today was non-existant and the populace was uninformed and largely illiterate, our politicians enjoyed one unique privilege; being leaders of a citizenry with an extremely short political memory.

So short was Wanjiku’s memory so that, a politician could comfortably commit an unfathomable atrocity and be sure of getting away with it.

There was no reason to make you worry about tomorrow. Wanjiku would never remember what you did yesterday, anyway.

A politician could embezzle public funds, harass & even kill his opponent or grab land today and still win an election tomorrow.

By the way, during those days, were there elections in the first place or leaders were simply installed by ‘Chama Cha Baba Na Mama’?

But that was back then. Not today.

A rapid political evolution has now given birth to a new Wanjiku who is not just very enlightened politically but also one with a dangerously sharp memory.

Wanjiku’s limbic system appears to have evolved exponentially in the past two decades or so!

Today, unlike back then, if you commit an atrocity while you are in power, be sure that Wanjiku won’t forget about it.

Instead, she will silently note it down, remain calm, go about her daily business as if nothing happened and wait until the ultimate day of reckoning; the next election.

And when that day comes, Wanjiku’s moment of revenge will have availed itself. It will be a time to revisit your sins of the past.

She will dutifully wake up at 4am, walk to the polling station and then without much bravado, mercilessly execute her mission. By the time she leaves that polling station, she will have thrown you into the political dustbin for good.

The 2017 elections results can easily help you confirm this new reality.

Wanjiku no longer forgets.

Even more interesting, Wanjiku has now gone to the extent of revisiting atrocities a politician committed 10 or more years ago and consequently serving that justice that was denied back than.

Wanjiku’s revisiting is now not sparing even politicians who served during former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, for that which they did back then.

One such politician who the ghosts of yesteryears have come back to haunt big time is NARC Kenya leader Martha Wangari Karua.

Karua, who contested for the Kirinyaga governorship during the 8/8/2017 polls and lost to former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru, has for the past two years or so, been struggling with her past which, Wanjiku seems not to be happy with.

Among the main reasons that made Wanjiku deny Karua Kirinyaga County’s top job last year include her refusal to support President Uhuru Kenyatta (a darling of Mt Kenya region) in 2013, the bribe she once allegedly received from British American Tobacco Limited and her association with Opposition Leader Raila Odinga during the Okoa Kenya showdown.

But nothing hurt Karua’s bid last year than a decade old controversy surrounding the land of a settlement scheme located in the east-most side of Mwea constituency, Kirinyaga County, called South Ngariama.

So, what exactly is the story of Martha Karua and South Ngariama?

Apparently, locals accuse Karua of being the mastermind behind the stinking corruption and nepotism that characterized the subdivision and allocation of plots in the 28,000 acre piece of land, giving birth to a decade long dispute that is yet to be resolved.

The ranch used to be held under Trust by the now defunct County Council of Kirinyaga until around 2007 when, the Council began the process of subdividing it, so that it could be allocated to the landless residents of then Kirinyaga District.

At that point in time, Karua was a powerful Minister for Justice in Kibaki’s government and the MP for Gichugu, positions of influence she is accused of having used to apportion her family huge chunks of land in South Ngariama, while also ‘gifting’ her political allies and close confidants with the same.

Karua’s father was reportedly allocated 10 acres while her brother, a former school principal, got 12 acres which he has since sold for millions of shillings.

Karua’s sister was reportedly allocated three acres (parcel No 4193) which she also later sold.

As expected, Karua has severally denied being involved in any irregular allocations in South Ngariama.

Speaking before the Parliamentary Committee on Land and Natural Resources in 2010, Karua rubbished concerns that the process of land allocation was marred by favouritism, insisting that the process was above par.

However, to date, as was evident during last year’s elections, the ghosts of this emotive issue have refused to leave Karua alone. The controversy alone, cost Karua tens of thousands of votes during last year’s election.

The land, whose subdivision sparked a dispute that has even led to loss of lives, continues to make politicking for Karua, a rather slippery affair.

The over 5000 supposed benefitting families, who now live as squatters with the fear of eviction as they still have no prove of ownership of the pieces they occupy, with a back up from their families of origin, spread across the county, will hear nothing about Karua.

They believe Karua is solely responsible for their woes.

To make matters even worse for Karua, the company that was single-sourced to handle the demarcation of the land, is allegedly owned by Hon. Joseph Gachoki Gitari, Karua’s running mate during last year’s poll.

So, as Karua goes back to Kerugoya Law Courts on Monday, for a fresh hearing of a petition in which she has challenged Governor Waiguru’s win, one thing remains constant.

For her to have even the slightest chance of resurrecting politically, she will have to shed the ghosts of South Ngariama first, by coming clean on the issue. There are no two ways about it.

Otherwise, even if she was to succeed in securing a by-election, the ghosts of South Ngariama will still not allow her to get anywhere near the county headquarters as boss.

Wanjiku will simply revisit South Ngariama, once more, through the ballot.