Article 67 of the Constitution establishes and stipulates the functions of the National Land Commission in Kenya. The National Land Commission is also one of the independent commissions established by Chapter 15 of the Kenyan Constitution.
The National Land Commission Act makes further provisions concerning the powers and functions of the National Land Commission, and the qualifications and procedures for appointments to the Commission.
The Act also gives effect to the objectives and principles of devolved government in land management and administration and for connected purposes.
Membership of the National Land Commission
The membership of the National Land Commission in Kenya should consist of a chairperson and eight other members. The members should be appointed according to the Constitution and the provisions of the National Land Commission Act.
The chairperson and members of the Commission should be appointed in accordance with the procedure set out in the First Schedule of the National Land Commission Act
A person should be qualified for appointment as the chairperson if the person-
- holds a degree from a university recognised in Kenya;
- has knowledge and experience of at least fifteen years in matters relating to any of the following fields—
- public administration;
- land management and administration;
- management of natural resources;
- land adjudication and settlement;
- land law, land survey, spatial planning or land economics; or
- social sciences;
- meets the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution (on leadership and integrity); and
- has had a distinguished career in their respective fields.
A person should be qualified for appointment as a member of the Commission if the person meets the same requirements above, except that they only require at least ten years experience instead of fifteen.
A person should not be qualified for appointment as the chairperson or a member of the Commission if the person—
- is a member of Parliament or county assembly;
- is an official of a governing body of a political party;
- has at any time within the preceding five years, held or stood for election as a member of Parliament, a county assembly or as a governor;
- is an undischarged bankrupt;
- has been convicted of a felony;
- has benefitted from, or facilitated an unlawful or irregular allocation, acquisition or use of land or other public property; or
- has been removed from office for contravening the provisions of the Constitution or any other written law.
The requirement about being an official of a governing body of a political party should cease to apply to a person after two general elections since the person ceased to hold such office.
The chairperson and members of the Commission should be appointed for a single term of six years and are not eligible for re-appointment.
Functions of the National Land Commission
According to Article 67(2) of the Kenyan Constitution, the functions of the National Land Commission in Kenya should be to:
- manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments;
- recommend a national land policy to the national government;
- advise the national government on a comprehensive programme for the registration of title in the land throughout Kenya;
- conduct research related to land and the use of natural resources, and make recommendations to appropriate authorities;
- initiate investigations, on its own initiative or on a complaint, into present or historical land injustices, and recommend appropriate redress;
- encourage the application of traditional dispute resolution mechanisms in land conflicts;
- assess tax on land and premiums on immovable property in any area designated by law; and
- monitor and have oversight responsibilities over land use planning throughout the country.
Article 67(3) of the Constitution says the National Land Commission may perform any other functions prescribed by national legislation. The National Land Commission Act stipulates these additional functions as to;
- alienate public land on behalf of, and with the consent of the national and county governments;
- monitor the registration of all rights and interests in land;
- ensure that public land under the management of the designated state agencies is sustainably managed for the intended purposes; and
- the commission may develop and maintain an effective land information system for the management of public land.
Powers of the National Land Commission
The Commission should have all the powers necessary for the execution of its functions under the Constitution, the National Land Commission Act and any other written law.
The Commission should have the powers to—
- gather, by such means as it considers appropriate, any relevant information including requisition of reports, records, documents or any information from any source, including any State organ, and to compel the production of such information where it considers necessary;
- hold inquiries for the purposes of performing its functions under the National Land Commission Act;
- take any measures it considers necessary to ensure compliance with the principles of land policy set out in Article 60(1) of the Constitution.
In exercising its powers and discharging its functions, the Commission—
- may inform itself in such manner as it may consider necessary;
- may receive written or oral statements; and
- is not bound by the strict rules of evidence.
For more about the National Land Commission (NLC) see the National Land Commission Act and visit their website at landcommission.go.ke.