Pay for IDPs in Gusii takes prominence as campaigns intensify

Compensation for people who were displaced by the 2007/2008 post-election violence has slowly morphed into a monster that has haunted two consecutive governments 10 years after the chaos.

And as the August 8 General Election approaches, the matter has also turned into an election issue.

READ: 15,000 IDPs to get millions in compensation

READ: Uhuru gives IDP families Sh358 million

HEALING
The internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) resettlement and compensation was supposed to be a symbol of national healing following the elections whose outcome threatened to tear the country apart.

The government has spent more than Sh6 billion in compensations since the programme began seven years ago.

READ: Genuine integrated IDPs to be compensated

FEAR
Yet the issue keeps getting more sensitive during the electioneering period and integrated IDPs are demanding that their dues be settled once and for all.

They are worried that with only days left to the polls, they may not be compensated despite many assurances by consecutive governments.

RESETTLE
The grand coalition government headed by former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga promised to settle the matter before the 2013 General Election.

In 2008, Mr Kibaki pointed out that there was a need to restore the status of the country by ensuring those evicted from their homes were resettled.

INTEGRATED IDPs
But long after he handed over the mantle to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the matter still lingers.  

President Kenyatta, in his tour of Gusii region a month ago, said the government had already resettled all IDPs living in tents.

He pointed out that the current compensation targets the other category called integrated IDPs, who were hosted by friends or relatives after the displacements.

“Our first priority was to resettle those who lived in IDP camps and we have succeeded in that.

“What we have started now is meant to bring to a close the issue of integrated IDPs in 33 counties including Meru, Nyandarua, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisumu, Migori … ,” the President said.

PUBLICITY
At least more than 14,000 people in Gusii, who used to live in different parts of Rift Valley when the violence broke out, were affected.

President Kenyatta last month gave the survivors living in Nyamira County Sh470 million and Sh380 million to those in Kisii.

Their chairman, Mr Alfred Akama said they are yet to receive the compensation and that most genuine victims were left out.

“Most of the beneficiaries are those enlisted by politicians who are out to gain political mileage,” he said.

PEACE
But he said there is hope following the announcement by Deputy President William Ruto, who while campaigning in Kisii and Nyamira counties recently, said they will all be compensated as it is their right.

In a move to cool the simmering storm in the region over skewed compensation, the DP said that the government is keen to close the IDP chapter and begin a new one of Kenyans co-existing peacefully.

“Even those whose names were left out of the compensation list will get their money,” Mr Ruto said.

PROTESTS
The integrated IDPs have held a series of demonstrations to protest underhanded compensation.

During one of the protests by Nyamira IDPs, a senior police officer and two civilians were injured during a confrontation between the two groups.

An IDP was shot in the leg as police officers tried to disperse the protesters.

PROBLEMATIC
Former East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Joseph Kiangoi and Nyamira County Assembly Speaker Joash Nyamoko are among local leaders allied to the Jubilee Party who pleaded with Mr Ruto to ensure compensation of all the casualties.

The two leaders said many genuine IDPs were left out in the compensation programme.

The skewed compensation is one that has elicited a debate that could hurt the ruling regime.

DELAY

Opposition leaders from the region are gaining politically from the issue citing discrimination by the Jubilee government, which reportedly paid IDPs in other regions more than Sh400,000 as compensation.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae, former UN Habitat Ambassador Sam Ongeri, Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka and Nominated Senator Janet Ongera are some of the leaders who feel the compensation is twisted.

Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire and Nyaribari Chache parliamentary aspirant Chris Bichage have faulted the government for the “too little, too late” compensation.

BIAS
The opposition leaders have asked the Jubilee administration to respect Kisii residents, saying they have been taken for granted for a long time.

Speaking on different occasions while hunting for votes, they said members of the community will only respect those who respect them and never again will they allow leaders to mock them.

“We are warning the Jubilee administration against dividing the community through decisive politics,” Mr Ongeri said.

IMPOSTERS
Mr Onyonka said that all locals want is development and that they are wise enough not to be lured by empty baskets.

“It is disheartening that the Gusii IDPs have been given Sh50,000 only while IDPs in other regions were given close to Sh500,000,” Mr Ongwae said.

Ms Ongera claimed that those who benefited from disbursements in the Gusii region were not the real victims but Jubilee supporters.

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