Kenya: Mudavadi Raids Kajiado in Scramble for Maa Community Votes

20 September 2020

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has joined the group of politicians keen on wooing the Maasai community as the battle to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022 intensifies.

Mr Mudavadi is the latest politician to visit Kajiado County, a significant battle ground, after President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and allies of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

He raided the county on Sunday and sought support for his presidential bid from an area that is part of DP Ruto's Rift Valley turf.

The politician called on the community to remain united as the country prepares for the next General Election and to support his bid to become Kenya's fifth President.

Speaking at Maparashi Hills during the Maasai Oleng'sherr ceremony, he promised to primarily focus on reviving the economy.

"I know you won't disappoint me," he told the people.

Strong ties

The politician, who was accompanied by Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku and MPs Elijah Memusi Kanchori (Kajiado Central) and Ayub Savula (Lugari), also spoke of a long lasting, cordial relationship with the people of that county and the larger Maasai community.

Governor Lenku acknowledged the ANC leader's "close relationship" with President Kenyatta and urged Mr Mudavadi to continue supporting him in his development agenda as he seeks to take over come 2022.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula said he is sure the President will support Mr Mudavadi's 2022 bid as part of efforts to keep the country united and steer development.

"Mudavadi supported Mr Kenyatta in 2022. Since then he has been shelving his interests and supporting other candidates. It is now his turn. I know President Kenyatta will support him as the safe pair of hands to unite this country," he said.

It has been said, however, that President Kenyatta, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi (Baringo senator) are working on a winning coalition to retain power in 2022.

Besides this force, Mr Mudavadi will face candidates including Deputy President William Ruto, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Machakos' Alfred Mutua.

Corruption

Mr Mudavadi also reaffirmed his support for President Uhuru Kenyatta in the fight against corruption.

He praised the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for its report on allegations of graft at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) in procurement of Covid-19 supplies and asked the DPP to take strignest measures.

In a statement on September 18, Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji said he had received the case file from the EACC on an irregular expense of Sh7.8 billion by Kemsa.

Mr Haji said he had appointed a team of senior experienced prosecutors to independently review the file and report back to him. He said he would give directions in 14 days.

Mr Mudavadi asked the DPP to thoroughly scrutinise the report and ensure justice for the people.

The ANC leader also spoke about anticipated constitutional changes, saying the focus should be on improving lives.

"As the debate on constitutional changes continues, I urge Kenyans to remain united and embrace peace. Let the debate not divide this country. Leaders should be selfless and focus on offering solutions to the problems bedeviling our country.The changes should be focussed on bettering the lives of Kenyans," he said.

He added, "Amendments to the Constitution should not be informed by political and personal interests."

Key tours

In the past few months, the county that is mainly home to the Maasai community, has played host to a number of key figures across the political divide, majority of them key contenders in the 2022 presidential race.

Amid fears that DP Ruto is losing grip of the Kalenjin, Maasai, Turkana and Samburu, or Kamatusa as they were once known, his rivals have devised ways to deflate him.

Recently, President Kenyatta's three Cabinet Secretaries - Fred Matiang'i (Interior), Keriako Tobiko (Environment) and Mutahi Kagwe (Health) - toured Kajiado in what political observers said was a mission to woo the community and disrupt DP Ruto's frenetic forays into the region.

CS Tobiko was involved in an ugly spat with former Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet, who is one of Dr Ruto's key allies.

The CS who hosted his counterparts criticised the DP for holding meeting with Kajiado leaders at his Karen residence in Nairobi, saying they were premature campaigns by "restless characters keen on succeeding President Kenyatta".

He further accused Dr Ruto and his allies of disrespecting the Head of State, saying he is an assistant, just like ministers.

"The Deputy President is just a clerk to the President. Murkomen and even his boss must respect the President," he said.

Ruto's fight

However, the DP has also been putting up a fight. The Cabinet secretaries' tour came just a day after he hosted MCAs from Kajiado in Karen.

In the past few weeks, DP Ruto, whose strategists consider Kajiado one of his vote-hunting grounds, has intensified his political activities, meeting four delegations at his home, much to the chagrin of President Kenyatta's allies in the county.

The wars between DP Ruto and the Uhuru-Raila camps have already left Kajiado leaders divided.

Governor Ole Lenku has embraced the handshake team led by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga while a faction led by Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito says it owes no one an apology for supporting Dr Ruto presidency bid.

ODM Nominated Senator Judy Pareno, who is said to be eyeing a county seat in 2022, and MP Kanchori have joined the governor in backing the 'handshake'.

County Assembly Speaker Johnson Osoi and majority of the MCAs in Kajiado have also been supportive of President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga's unity deal.

Mr Ole Metito has been President Kenyatta's key ally since 2013 but he is currently on DP Ruto's side.

Those supporting DP Ruto in Kajiado include senators Philip Mpaayei and Mary Seneta (Nominated), who is eyeing the Kajiado East MP post.

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