17 May 2017

Kenya: Sabaot Elders Declare 'Lusaka Tano Tena'

Bungoma — Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka and his Deputy Hillary Chongwony have received a major boost after more than 100 elders declared another five-term for them beginning August.

Drawn from the Kony, Bok, Somek, Sabiny and Bongomek sub-tribes, the Supreme Council of Elders, a respected and highest decision-making body in the Sabaot community, said that the pace at which Bungoma County was being transformed was satisfactory.

"We have seen roads built and tarmacked; free fertiliser a being distributed to farmers. The disputes that were there between the Sabaots and Bukusus are now gone, thanks to the leadership of Lusaka and Chongwony," said Reuben Butaki, the chairman of the Council.

Out of this harmony, Butaki says the region has witnessed "tremendous" change.

The elders spoke just a day after a group of people purporting to be Sabaot elders claimed that Governor Lusaka should change his deputy governor. "We have even reported to the police. Those people claiming to be the elders are scavengers; they are conduits of some politicians," said one of the elders.

Butaki called on the Bungoma Governor to maintain his deputy "for the sake of stability and development in the county".

"It is by virtue of having Deputy Governor Chongwony that the Mt Elgon infrastructure is undergoing transformation. Who knew that Cheptais and Kapsokwony would one day get tarmack roads. Now, we have a world-class athletics training centre in Chemoge courtesy of this regime. We fully support it," the elders said a statement.

Jubilee MP Aspirant in Mt Elgon Fred Kapondi appreciates that there has been some disquiet about the deputy Governor in the region but that should not translate to underperformance. "The two have worked cordially in the last three years, and this has had a developmental impact on the people. Devolution is something new in the country and we should not be emotional in making decisions which could be detrimental to our people," he said.

He noted that traditionally, Sabaots have a structured way of addressing issues, and not through media. "Any decision should be inclusive from across Mt Elgon, and not exclusively from one region called Cheptais."

Only a week ago, the Supreme Council of Sabaot Elders handed over a special spear, a shield and a bracelet to Bungoma Governor Lusaka, officially giving him a nod to race for the August polls.

According to Mzee Butaki, the spear, the shield and the bracelet are cultural symbols of an endorsement from the entire Sabaot community to Governor Lusaka and his deputy to go for the second term.

"You are now the one who will defend us. Go for the second-term without any fear. You have our blessings as a community. Na sisi sio watu wa kugeuka," said Mr Butaki at the Chemoge High Altitude Training Centre.

The decision is a big win to Governor Lusaka, who has been lauded for bringing a lot of development in Bungoma. The Governor commands a huge following in Mt Elgon, which according to the IEBC, has about 70,000 registered voters.

While thanking the Sabaot community for the special blessings, the Governor and his Deputy said they would continue serving the interests of the people of Bungoma, even as they face stiff competition from propaganda-peddling politicians.

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