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Ruto, Matiang'i factor shaping Kajiado governship contest

By Peterson Githaiga | October 8th 2021
Deputy President William Ruto during a meeting with grassroots leaders from Transmara, Narok County. [DPPS]

As the scramble for votes takes shape ahead of next year’s elections, Deputy President William Ruto has turned his focus to the Maasai community swing vote.

Two days after visiting Narok County, he is expected in Kajiado County where he will receive Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko in his camp.

Tobiko, a long-time ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, has declared that she will run for the Kajiado governorship seat on a UDA ticket.

Better known as “Iron lady of Kajiado”, Peris has faced many cultural barriers. Her opponents have capitalised on the fact that her husband comes from Narok and told her to seek leadership in her husband’s home county.

The MP was labelled a foreigner. However, the “foreigner tag” backfired on her rivals as she has been using it to win over people from other regions who have settled in Kajiado, especially in urban centres.

The settlers also felt alienated by the “foreigner tag”. Their votes, according to pundits, have contributed to Peris’ victory over the years.

The move by Tobiko to shift her loyalty to the United Democratic Alliance comes as the ODM leader Raila Odinga is seen to have favoured the incumbent Joseph ole Lenku who is defending his seat under the handshake team.

Recently, Tobiko was reported as saying she and Lenku cannot work together since they are like “water and petrol”.

“You know me well, I can never walk together with my brother Lenku we are like water and petrol and therefore I will be contesting for governorship on a different party,” said Tobi area recently.

However, the entry of Tobiko who will host the DP at her Ilpolosat home has jolted the camp of Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito who has all along been Ruto’s point man in Kajiado. Metito is also eyeing the UDA ticket to run for governorship.

Supporters of Tobiko and those of Metito will be waiting to hear from the deputy president who has been promising that his party will follow due process and transparency during party nominations ahead of the elections.

Another interesting development is the interest Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has taken on Kajiado politics.

Dr Matiang’i, considered one of President Kenyatta’s most trusted CSs, has lately chosen Kajiado County as the theatre for his political pronouncements, addressing delegates on his stand on various seats.

In 2019, he landed in Kajiado and led Environment CS Keriako Tobiko and Lenku to launch the BBI campaigns, the first time a Cabinet secretary made public their position on the initiative.

A fortnight ago, the CS hosted hundreds of Gusii elected leaders and professionals in Isinya at a ranch owned by veteran broadcaster Fred Obachi Machoka.

Last Sunday, the CS again hosted two of his colleagues Eugene Wamalwa (Defence) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) and a horde of other elected leaders from the Gusii community at a fundraiser in aid of the SDA Church in Kiserian, where political drum beats reverberated.

“We support the handshake and its candidate is Raila Odinga. We are working with the president to ensure this country is in safe hands during and after the next elections. The Kisii community is safest with Mr Odinga. We are very clear on that,” said Matiang’i recently.

As per the 2017 statistics, the number of registered voters among “non-locals” can easily alter the outcome of the governorship race, expected to be a tight contest between the Handshake candidate and the United Democratic Alliance candidate.

The declaration that Uhuru and Raila are backing Lenku for re-election has set tongues wagging.

It is against this backdrop that Matiang’i rallied his Gusii community living in Kajiado to back support Lenku in next year’s elections.

Matiang’i said Lenku has been critical in maintaining peace in the cosmopolitan county and deserved a second chance.

“This is our man. We have worked with him since 2017 as the national government and he has strived to bring all communities in his go to thunderous applause.

Matiangi’s endorsement of Lenku is a shot in arm to the governor’s re-election bid after he (Lenku) was last month endorsed by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka. Kalonzo paid the governor a courtesy call in Kajiado town together with MPs.

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