September 24th 2017

Opinion / Commentaries

William Ruto should never take the grumbling in Rift Valley for granted

An indication of an unsettling disquiet in the Rift is the heckling of the self-styled Jubilee loud-mouth, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, at Tot Centre, which forced him to flee the meeting attended by high-profile Marakwet leaders. “The kitchen is too hot to stay!”

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 16 Oct 2016 16:59 EAT

The popular aphorism, 'make hay while the sun shines' should teach Deputy President William Ruto some lesson or two. I thought the hotly-contested Kericho senatorial by-election that saw Jubilee's candidate romp into triumph was enough to send clear message to the ruling coalition that the disquiet in Rift Valley region is real, politically perilous and yelps for attention.

Any serious politician worth his salt cannot afford to turn a deaf ear or blind eye to the political undercurrents in the Rift valley region. During the Kericho by-election, Mr Ruto recognised that the magnitude of the disquiet in this part of the Jubilee heartland is enough to sink the Jubilee ship, and he deployed massive resources to undercut that prospect. He personally pleaded with the Kericho voters to spare him the crushing embarrassment of voting to KANU's Mr Paul Sang.

Since the unceremonious “dismissal” of the erstwhile director of NYS, Mr Kiplimo Rugut, by the then powerful Devolution and Planning CS, Anne Waiguru, the Kalenjin nation has felt short-changed. The disappointed electorates in question vowed [obviously without taking oath] to shift their allegiance from Jubilee to any other relevant party that they think could protect and advance their interests, bearing in mind that politics is about anything, but interests.

Having seen this vacuum that was recklessly created by the dominant party [URP] in the Kalenjin nation of the Rift valley, KANU, CCM and even ODM are now targeting to fill the vacuum. The million dollar question is; will they fit into that shoe? It could be too big for them, who knows. Look, in a by-election that was supervised by the IEBC in Nyangores Ward, Governor Isaac Ruto's Chama Cha Mashinani party carried the day, trouncing JAP's aspirants fair and square. Translating, loosely, to vote of no confidence in the Jubilee! This means something big, in the world of cut-throat political contests.

Marakwet community, particularly those living along the Kerio Valley are down in the dumps. They are deeply frustrated by the current wave of unbridled banditry attack from the Pokot community. The invasion by Pokots has seen more than thirty people killed, a chilling reminiscence of the past mass killings during the dark KANU era.

In light of this spate of somewhat endless invasions by the cattle rustlers spoiling for a fight with the Marakwets, the people of Kerio valley have renounced their allegiance. The reason why Marakwets are allergic to KANU oscillates around the feelings fanned by the weighty propaganda that former president Moi's KANU regime was the key brain behind the grotesque killings along the valley.

Now there is nauseating feeling that Jubilee administration, is paying lip service to the Marakwet woes and miseries! People in this part of Jubilee stronghold [and I doubt if it's still its stronghold] believe, rightly so, that “their government” is questionably sweeping their jaw-dropping issues under the rug. Therefore, these underscores why they have made up their minds to shirk away Jubilee regime [like leprosy? Perhaps].

Marakwet that was once a solid URP zone, as we speak now, is an open political hunting ground. Anyone can convince them for political support, provided that the politician seeking their vote assures them of the return to their seemingly elusive peace; and that the same aspirant is not contesting on KANU or JPK ticket.

An indication of an unsettling disquiet in the Rift is the heckling of the self-styled Jubilee loud-mouth, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, at Tot Centre, which forced him to flee the meeting attended by high-profile Marakwet leaders. “The kitchen is too hot to stay!”

The heightened complains from parts of south Rift over the government's neglect of their region in terms of development, as was demonstrated in the Kericho by-election, the Marakwet rumbles over insecurity issues and other underground forms of disquiet is enough to tell the DP that the rumbles in the Rift Valley could spell doom for his political career and clout. To think of downplaying and arrogantly dismissing these voices as trivial, and has no political bearing is akin to sky-diving without a parachute.

Frankly speaking, these open disquiet will, in the forthcoming watershed election, dim Jubilee's political bright star in the vote-rich Rift valley region. Unless Mr Ruto fixes the small leaks on his political stronghold's boats, he will be the true witness to its sinking. Is anyone listening to me?

True, the rumbles in the rift will, irrefutably, cost Jubilee party [JP] a leg and an arm.

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





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