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The grabbed state: lawyers, politics and public land in Kenya

Manji, Ambreena ORCID: 2012. The grabbed state: lawyers, politics and public land in Kenya. The Journal of Modern African Studies 50 (3) , pp. 467-492. 10.1017/S0022278X12000201

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In 2002, Kenya's new National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) undertook to investigate and ensure the recovery of all public lands illegally allocated by the outgoing government. A Commission of Inquiry into the Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Public Land, chaired by the lawyer Paul Ndung'u, was appointed. The commission's report sets out the illegal land awards made to powerful individuals and families, provides important information about the mechanisms by which public land was misallocated, and shows how the doctrine that public land should be administered and allocated ‘in the public interest’ was consistently perverted. This paper explores what the Ndung'u report tells us about the role of the legal profession in the illegal and irregular misallocation of public land. It makes clear that the legal profession, far from upholding the rule of law, has played a central role in land corruption, using its professional skills and networks to accumulate personal wealth for itself and others. This stands in contrast to the role of the legal profession in promoting good governance and the rule of law envisaged by donors of international development aid. This paper focuses on ‘local’ land grabbing, and argues that the ‘global land grab’ or ‘investor rush’ needs to be understood alongside local manifestations of land privatisation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Additional Information: Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 24/02/2014).
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0022-278X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 07:01

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