As more land leases come up for renewal, most multinationals operating in the country face tough times. A recent review for counties found out that county governors are now scrambling for land leased to multinationals. From Kiambu County where coffee farms are giving way to real estate projects, to Turkana where oil is projected to be a precious comodity in a few years,land has become a major bargaining power for political support.
In these seven counties – Kiambu, Murang’a, Kericho, Nandi, Turkana, Siaya and Kajiado – governors have shown strong interest in land owned by multinational companies. Some have reportedly already earned their cut through the hardball tactics from companies seeking to renew land leases or change use from agriculture to commercial.
1. Kiambu County: Kabogo vs Waititu
In Kiambu County, over 5,000 acres of land belonging to SOCFINAF Company Ltd, which is owned by foreign investors developing a multi-billion shilling city. Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo is claimed to own 1000 acres of this piece of land. According to sources, Kabogo bargained for a piece of this land while serving as governor.
Now, when Waititu took over in Kiambu, dinner was already served by Socfinaf, with his predecessor taking the spoils. But the county of Kiambu had more to offer the incoming governor. Del Monte and their 22,000 acres of land proved a prime target.
The Californian juice and food manufacturer has been in Kenya for decades and has over that time called Kiambu and Muranga home. Its vast piece of land is spread out across both counties, with Muranga taking the lion’s share, at 14,000 acres.
The remaining almost 9000 acres are no small fit, and Waititu decided to capitalize on that. On September 7th, Waititu renewed Del Monte’s leasehold of 8,000 acres for a further 99 years, and in exchange, Kiambu county received 635 acres. How the juice manufacturer got such a great deal over such a long period of time, once again without very obvious benefits to the community and country, proved that we have not learnt as a country.
2. Murang’a vs Demonte
Here, the multinational holds 14,000 acres and they have reached a stalemate with the county government as to how much land they should surrender. Governor Mwangi wa Iria is demanding no less than 3,000 acres before agreeing to renew the lease, a number that Del Monte sees as too much and has resorted to filing a suit in court. According to the governor, Muranga county will use the 3,000 acres to put up a resort city.
3. Bomet, Kericho, and Nandi Counties vs Tea multinational tea companies
Governors from these two tea-growing counties are seeking to take over multinational tea companies’ land whose leases have expired. James Finlay, Unilever and George Williamson are some of the multinational tea companies affected in these counties. In fact, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and his Kericho counter Paul Chepkwony are pushing for the creation of a public company to manage multinational tea companies, hoping that this will force the companies to give out some land.
4. Siaya County Vs Dominion Farms
Dominion Farms have 17,000 acres of land under lease from the government. Recently they were forced to give out 900 acres to the county on top of 2,500 acres to the community. The investor has in the past claimed that Raila Odinga through Siaya Governor Cornell Rasanga has been frustrating the multinational.
5. Kajiado County Vs Tata Chemicals
Here, Tata Chemicals Ltd, formerly Magadi Soda, reportedly owes the county Ksh17 billion in rates for 224,991 acres of land for the last six years. The county governor Joseph Ole Lenku insists that the company must pay the full amount or face auction.
6. Turkana County Vs Tullow Oil
Over the past months, Governor Nanok has been in loggerheads with the national government over the sharing of oil revenue from Tullow Oil. Now that he is done with the national government, it now looks like his county government is not settled with the multinational. Recently, the county residents led by the governor and other local leaders, paralysed oil drilling with violent demonstrations.