February 25th 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

After routing hitherto invincibles, Rift Valley voters have date with destiny on August 8

Jackson Mandago's political strategy - founded on powerful propaganda laden with misguiding tribal narratives which manifestly suggest that the Nandi community is politically “under siege” - worked miracles. He trounced his closest rival Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich hands down.

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 27 Apr 2017 09:08 EAT

Deputy President William Ruto accompanied with CS Mwangi Kiunjuri (2nd left, red tie) and some of the governors during a past meeting.

The recent Jubilee party primaries that flopped and exposed the secretariat’s soft underbelly at the outset has truly seen the once political maestros like Governors Cleopas Lagat of Nandi County and Benjamin Cheboi of Baringo lose to their rivals, despite enjoying the sway of the incumbency.

On the other hand, some political neophytes, like Stanley Kiptis who vanquished the Baringo governor, have pulled surprises and won the coveted Jubilee ticket. May be, the incumbent had demonstrably proven incompetent and resorted to the infamous looting of the county’s scarce resources. The electorates could accurately answer the question, why.

Enter Uasin Gishu County, and you will meet the controversial incumbent Jackson Mandago whose political strategy - founded on powerful propaganda laden with misguiding tribal narratives which manifestly suggest that the Nandi community is politically “under siege” - worked miracles. He trounced his closest rival Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich hands down. By consistently whipping up tribal emotions that would box all Nandis inhabiting the cosmopolitan county into rallying their support behind him, the governor knew that he would blow his chief political opponent into smithereens, politically speaking. And he really did it, so superbly.

In Elgeyo Marakwet County, both the governor Alex Tolgos and Senator Kipchumba Murkomen won the Jubilee nomination. However, it would be unwise to sweep under the carpet some of the undertones emanating from the Keiyo community, bemoaning the Marakwets’ dominance of the most influential county echelons namely: the gubernatorial and senatorial positions. The Keiyos feel a little bit “edged out”. Such resentments could turn tables in the upcoming poll.

Yes, the political contest in Bomet County is expected to be very stiff. Now that the National Assembly deputy speaker Joyce Laboso, who was once ranked as the second most performing legislator, has clinched the Jubilee party ticket, the race will be, in actuality, the toughest in the Rift Valley. Incumbent Isaac Ruto who recently formed his CCM party has never been in good books with the top Jubilee honchos. In fact, many political pundits opine that the Bomet governor's decision to form his own political outfit was purely informed by his strained relationship with the Jubilee’s top brass.

The immediate former Chepalungu MP was cock-sure that his chance of winning the Jubilee nomination was wearing thinner by the passing of the sun, thanks to critiquing the Jubilee administration, while and after serving as the Chair of the Council of Governors. But the mind-nibbling question is: In a county that overwhelmingly voted for Jubilee in 2013 election, and is still touted as Jubilee vote bank, will Governor Ruto who is now reportedly the fifth principal of NASA surmount the imagined Jubilee wave to retain his highly coveted seat? Only time will tell.

Well, let’s concentrate our focus on why some seasoned political players, especially the governors were taken to the cleaners. It’s true to suggest that most of the nomination losers saw ‘the political discipline’ beckoning. But they failed to fix the leaking political roofs, which highlights the downpour that left them helplessly drenched in political rainwater.

Most of the governors who lost the party primaries in Rift valley region have been adversely cited in corruption scandals and other sickening tendencies of poor governance. Their political unpalatability could be traced back to that particular time when they began drifting to the ocean of nepotism, cronyism and favoritism.

According to some fact-laden media reports, the awarding of county tenders in some of these counties was totally flawed. The due processes set out in the law were not adhered to. Why? The morally challenged and kleptomaniac county bosses who were on the receiving end of the incensed electorates' wrath, are by subtle designs, rendering the field of the competition totally asymmetrical.

What this means for many denizens of the respective counties is that, competitions for any lucrative tender in the county is always done for sheer formality! Only the kin and kith, without forgetting the obsequious political cronies of the county bosses, would predictably win the multimillion shilling tenders.

So, a deeply angered and massively fed-up electorate won’t spare such type of morally bankrupt leaders. Of course, leaders are expected to always remain ethical, trustworthy, competent and humble. These, among other positive attributes of a remarkable leader, must have been conspicuously missing in the leadership features of the recent party primary losers in some part of the North Rift region.

Bearing in mind that these were just but mere party primaries, many of the political nomination losers will run as independent candidates. And it’s still within the realms of possibility for them to cruise to victory, especially in an area where the nomination exercises were marred by irregularities. But if the voters were allowed without manipulation to make up their minds on the kind of the leaders they want, I am certain the political fate of the Jubilee nomination losers has been sealed.

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press

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