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Waititu, Del Monte MoU elicits sharp reactions from elected leaders.

Del Monte MD Stergios Gkaliamoutsas shake hands with Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu at the Thika Sub-County Stadium after the signing of a MOU to renew the company's land lease for another 99 years.
A section of Kiambu elected leaders have faulted the memorandum of understanding between Governor Ferdinand Waititu and the management of Del Monte Kenya Limited for the renewal of the company’s land lease to another 99 years.

Senator Kimani Wamatangi has accusing Waititu of not following due diligence in the matter and sidelining other local leaders.

In a letter copied to the chairman of National Land Commission (NLC), Central Regional Commissioner, Kiambu County Commissioner and the Del Monte MD, Wamatangi said that the renewal of lease fell short of the requirements of the law and might deny the people of Kiambu the opportunity to get the returns of their assets.

The senator added that even though he did not objection to the renewal, it is important to note that the land in question actually belonged to the people of Kiambu and the exercise of it could only be within the limitations of a lease.

“It is important to clarify that the land leased to Del Monte belongs at all times to the people of Kiambu thus it is the people of Kiambu to decide the size of land to offer and the terms of lease. This can only be after consultations through public participation and the determination of the current needs of the county,” read part of the letter.

He accused the governor of sidelining area leaders in the matter adding that the decision on whether to extend the lease for the firm or not cannot be arrived at without involving the entire county leadership.

Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina termed the agreement null and void.

He said that although his constituency hosts the 8,000 acres in question, the deal was signed behind his back. 

“The company cannot give land to anyone since the land that will be surrendered will not be given to the county but to National Government. It is only the National Government, through the NLC that can determine which land goes where and for what use,” said Wainaina.

Wainaina suggested for a stakeholders’ crisis meeting to end the impasse adding that he had in the past bargained for about 500 acres from the company for the construction of an industrial park, a market, a motor vehicle inspection unit and sheds for jua kali artisans.

“The county can go ahead and give a ‘no objection,’ which is its job, but bargaining for a piece of land belongs to the Government, it is not within the county’s mandate,” he said.

(Related story: Kiambu renews Del Monte’s 8,000-Acre Land lease, gets 600 Acres for development.)

Last week, Waititu signed a MoU with the company’s MD Stergios Gkaliamoutsas, agreeing to facilitate the renewal of leasehold for the firm’s 8,000-acre land in Kiambu for another 99 years.

In return, Del Monte agreed to surrender 635 acres to the County Government of Kiambu.
In a brief ceremony held at Thika Stadium, Waititu and Stergios signed the deal ending many years of court battles over the land.  

The governor assured the company of a conducive environment to do business.

Del Monte is also facing resistance in Murang’a County over the same matter.

In suit papers filed in court in 2015, the firm’s MD indicated that political leaders from Murang’a had demanded more than 3,000 acres as a condition to renewing the lease that expires next year.

Governor Mwangi Wa Iria wants the company to surrender the land along the Thika-Kenol highway for a planned city.

In court, Del Monte said it had agreed to give up 500 acres and later increased to 1,000 acres, but the county government refused to renew the lease.

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