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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Kitui county, Mwendwa family fight for shrines

The longstanding ownership row of Nzambani shrine between Kitui county assembly and the family of former cabinet minister Kyale Mwendwa is far from over. The Assembly passed a motion to repossess the site.
The ownership of the shrine has been a serious matter following demands by locals that it should revert back to the county assembly from the hands of a private developer with claims that it was not of any benefit to the locals.
The residents of Nzambani ward now claim that they want to save the shrine since the community has a strong attachment to the rock, where religious rites have over the years been performed “to appease the gods”.
According to the residents, famine and drought began afflicting the area after the gods were angered when the rock was leased to a company associated to Kyale.
The county assembly on reacting to requests by the locals passed a private motion moved by Nzambani/Maluma ward rep Robinson Mativo to revert the ownership of the national monument to Kitui county government.
But even as the county assembly passed the motion to reposses the shrine, we have gathered that the directors of Nzambani Rock Development Company associated with  the former minister say they will challenge the assembly’s move, adding that they have spent colossal amounts of money to refurbish the site. Nyiva Mwendwa is a prominent face of  the family.
According to the company, they got a licence from the defunct municipal council of Kitui to revitalise the site to retain its mythic history, therefore the Assembly cannot act in isolation and that they had to be consulted and be part of any decision-making to transfer ownership of the shrine.
But sources at the Kitui assembly divulged that the decision to revert management of the site was reached by the assembly in its efforts to make the county a domestic tourism circuit region by refurbishing all the tourists attraction sites including the rock, Mumoni hills, Kitui South and Mwingi game reserves, Mutomo plant Sanctuary and Ikutha Africa Inland Church, the origin of the church in Africa.
We have also gathered that although Kyale’s firm was procedurally awarded the lease to own the Nzambani Rock for 99 years from 2004 by the defunct council, it had breached its side of the contract. Sources say the firm reneged on its part of the bargain which included marketing Nzambani Rock as major tourist attraction, installing electricity and water supply to the residents.