It’s a two-horse race in battle to succeed Governor Mandago

UDA nominee Jonathan Bii celebrates after winning gubernatorial seat in the UDA nomination on April 15, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The Uasin Gishu governorship contest has narrowed down to a two-horse race as businessman and politician Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich aka Buzeki, vying as an independent candidate, prepares to face off with a UDA nominee in the August 9 General Election.

Even as protests marred the UDA nominations, it will not be a walk in the park for Mr Jonathan Bii, who was declared winner in the party primaries, as Mr Bundotich exhibited confidence of clinching the seat that he narrowly lost to outgoing governor Jackson Mandago in 2017.

It will be Mr Bundotich’s second stab at clinching the county’s top seat as an independent candidate. In 2017, Mr Mandago (Jubilee) polled 193,604 votes against Mr Bundotich’s 148,121. During the election, a total 343,124 of the registered 450,159 voters participated.

Sources from his campaign team told The Standard yesterday that all was set and that Mr Bundotich was expected to launch his campaign for an all-out political duel before the end of this month. “I know the foundation of agricultural challenges we are facing in Uasin Gishu. That is the problem I want to come and cure for our residents and generations to come. My priority in allocation of funds will be directed to agriculture,” Mr Bundotich told his supporters at a strategy meeting in Eldoret.

He added: “We want to address cost of inputs, including fertiliser, and establish go-downs for a County Warehousing Receipting System (WRS), where farmers can store produce after harvest and be paid 40 per cent for produce as they wait for better prices in the future.”

Mr Bundotich said he aimed to end the culture of exploitation of farmers during glut. “We want our agricultural producers to have better cash flow and participate in pushing economic prosperity of the county, and enhance standards of living. We will ensure a people driven administration to enhance our economy,” he said.

Prior to the UDA party nominations, Mr Bundotich had stated that he would be in the elections finals in August as an independent candidate. “I wish those in UDA luck. May the best candidate win in nomination and we shall meet at the finals,” he said.

Outcome rejected

Uasin Gishu is the home turf of Deputy President William Ruto, who is behind UDA. Seven aspirants, including two envoys and a sitting MP, battled it out in last Thursday’s UDA primaries, that was won by Mr Bii.

The outcome of the UDA nominations has however been rejected by some aspirants. “We reject the results because we believe the nominations were rigged in favour of certain candidates. We are aware of many malpractices and it started with appointment of presiding officers and clerks, done by certain candidates,” said Mr Julius Bitok, who was second.

Mr Bitok demanded a repeat of the exercise.

In 2017, Mr Bundotich contested on an independent ticket after expressing dissatisfaction with Jubilee nominations. He had also been named Secretary General for Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani, but jumped ship last year after Mr Ruto warmed up to the DP.

He also called for a peaceful election process, urging candidates to preach peace and coexistence among communities in the cosmopolitan county.