Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen on Saturday stood his ground over what he said was the the inhumane treatment of the Mau Forest evictees.
He vowed to continue defending the rights of the Mau settlers, even at the expense of being accused of disrespecting President Uhuru Kenyatta's directives.
In his second visit to the vast water tower in Narok County in three days, Mr Murkomen claimed that junior officials leading the eviction had burnt people's houses outside the forest. He said 10 schools outside the forest had been closed, with 4,000 children affected.
Just a day after he was accused of disrespecting President Kenyatta by suggesting that his March 9 handshake with Opposition leader Raila Odinga was to be blame for the evictions, Mr Murkomen was on Saturday unapologetic.
“If by standing with the poor, the weak and the young children who are suffering in Mau, I am being disrespectful, then I am guilty as charged,” said Mr Murkomen at Kitoben in Narok South.
The Elgeyo-Marakwet senator, in defiance of Jubilee Party leaders, and several Maasai leaders both in Narok and the neighbouring counties, delivered 2,000 pieces of iron sheets he said should be used to rebuild the burnt houses outside the forest.
And in a veiled attack on Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, who was the first to condemn his Thursday visit to the Mau saying it was undermining the President, Mr Murkomen said his bid to “protect the rights of the people of Mau” is unstoppable.
"Let me warn my detractors that I know they are looking for any way to clinch my Senate Majority seat, but they will not go anywhere. What I am doing is for the plight of these people who are being evicted inhumanely," he said.
This, even as Kanu chairman Gideon Moi — accompanied by former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto and Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat — visited the evictees and distributed foodstuffs while asking President Kenyatta to take charge of the process.
Mr Moi, whose party had accused Deputy President William Ruto of being insincere in the plan to protect the water tower, called on Rift Valley politicians to stop utterances that would incite the residents near the forest against the government.
Igembe North MP Maoka Maore called for Mr Murkomen's removal, saying he no longer represented the interests of the Jubilee Party.
“From his tone and comments, Mr Murkomen should be relieved of his duties as Majority Leader immediately. He was throwing tantrums purporting to be angry because of the Mau evictions yet he went personal with the President. He is supposed to be the face and the voice of the government,” Mr Maoka said.
Mr Murkomen told the gathering at Kitoben that the 2,000 iron sheets “I have been sent by the government to present” had been impounded at Olmekenyu, a shopping centre five kilometres from the forest, but will soon get to them.
Speaking at the burial of Nyamira Senator John Nyagarama’s son on Friday, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo warned Mr Murkomen not to drag the name of Mr Odinga in the Mau saga.
“I challenge them to speak the truth, it shall set them free. They are spreading pure lies and they very well know the evictions were sanctioned by the Cabinet during the grand coalition government. Akina Murkomen watajua hawajui,” Mr Orengo said while using a popular cliché meant to ridicule opponents who think they know while they actually know nothing.
University of Nairobi’s Prof Herman Manyora termed the water tower as the “Mau graveyard”, warning that it will hit back at the Ruto wing, as hard as it hit at Mr Odinga.
“As they use it to hit at Raila directly, but indirectly at Uhuru and the handshake, the Ruto wing is looking at their own destruction, and just as the Mau destroyed Raila, I see it destroying William Ruto,” said Prof Manyora.
This came as the High Court declined to issue conservatory orders in a petition by 15 settlers seeking to stop the eviction.
Through lawyer Peter Wanyama, the group claimed the government, without any right or legal authority and in utter disrespect of property rights and human dignity, had illegally and forcibly evicted the settlers.
The petitioners, led by Joseph Kimeto Ole Mapelu and Francis Kiptanui Cheres, said the land in Reyio, Enekishomi, Sisiyan, Enoosokon and Nkaroni belonged to them and they have lawful title deeds.
“In 2008, the government created a huge cutline to separate group ranches and the forest where Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation was allocated this; land that borders the forest. They have planted tea on this forest boundary,” read the petition.
They argued: “There is evidence of constant attempts to disenfranchise the legal owners of property leading to the filing of a case by the Ogiek community in the African court on human and people’s rights in Arusha Tanzania.”
Additional reporting by David Muchui