As the news of President Uhuru announcing more appointments to his government spread Tuesday evening, joyous celebrations in Lolong’bei village near Kaptama Market in Mt Elgon erupted.
The villagers had thronged the home of Harry Kimtai to celebrate his nomination to President Uhuru’s final term government, terming it a great honour to the members of his marginalised Sabaot community.
Kimtai was unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta as his PS nominee for the Livestock docket.
It elicited excitement among the residents as this is the first time since independence a member of the minority community has landed a PS post in government.
Yesterday leaders from the region led by Kaptama MCA Francis Chemion, congratulated President Kenyatta and his Deputy Ruto for appointing one of their own.
“We are happy that for the first time in history, a person from Mt Elgon has been appointed to plum post in government. Sabaot people who have always supported Jubilee since its formation without being rewarded, will now feel they are part and parcel of government,” said Chemion.
Kimtai unsuccessfully contested the Mt Elgon parliamentary seat in the last elections as an independent candidate after losing out in the Jubilee Party primaries to the current MP Fred Kapondi.
Evans Kiprotich, a former Mt Elgon parliamentary aspirant and Pius Muyei a former nominated councillor said the nomination of Kimtai was long overdue since the residents have been loyal supporters of Jubilee government.
“We are happy that through his nomination, the president and his deputy have cured the discontentment in community, as some members felt left out of government they overwhelmingly support,” said Mr Kiprotich.
Mr Muyei said the naming of Kimtai as a PS shows the government recognizes the role played by the Sabaots. He added that they expect more appointments.
“Apart from a PS, our community has never produced an ambassadors or parastatal heads. We hope the government, with the blessings of our brother William Ruto, who understands our plight better, ensures we get special consideration in subsequent appointments," said Muyei.
Another member of the community Aldrene Bushendich described him as technocrat with an impeccable development track record.
“Harry Kimtai is one of our finest role model with an irreproachable moral standing. President Uhuru has done such an honourable act to consider the Sabaot in his final term,” he said.
Members of the Sabaot community have a sentimental attachment to the Uhuru presidency, as they claim he was first endorsed for the seat by retired President Moi in the area, at Kapsokwony 2002.
Jubilee received a resounding victory in Mt Elgon in 2013, and 2017, perhaps signifying the connection the people have with Mr Kenyatta.
In 2013, Uhuru’s win had elicited hope among the residents that the president will as the norm reward those who supported his election but they got nothing.
Former President Moi first named Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor in Mt Elgon in July 2002, during a fundraising organized by professionals from the community for the Kapsokwony District Hospital.