Fierce Ruto, Gideon rivalry grips Kalenjin sub-groups
As the political rivalry between Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi intensifies, so is the supremacy battle between the Nandi and Tugen communities ahead of the August 9 General Election.
The Nandi community is now demanding that the Tugen support one of their own for the presidency.
Nandis are of the opinion that they stood with the late President Moi for years and it is time their Tugen counterparts return the favour by supporting Deputy President William Ruto, a Nandi for the presidency.
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang has kicked off the debate, arguing that the community religiously voted for Moi for 24 years even when other Kalenjin communities rebelled against him at some point during his regime.
“We take issue when we see Mzee Moi’s son (Gideon) fighting the DP. Where was he when we were supporting his father? He should support Ruto who is more politically positioned to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta,” said Sang.
The Deputy President and Gideon have been embroiled in protracted supremacy battles for control of the vote-rich Rift Valley ahead of the August 9 polls, as each try to stamp his authority as the region’s political kingpin.
Ruto has openly expressed his intention to succeed President Uhuru and has intensified his campaigns to bolster his support across the country after teaming up under Kenya Kwanza Alliance with Amani National NC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.
Gideon on the other hand seems to be on the political crossroads after One Kenya Alliance disintegrated with Mudavadi and Wetang’ula joining forces with the DP.
However, Sang yesterday claimed Gideon received a raw deal in Azimio-One Kenya alliance after Kanu was not given any position during the announcement made by the coalition flag bearer Raila Odinga when he unveiled his running mate Martha Karua last week. “All is not lost for our brother Gideon. Just come back home and support your brother (Ruto) and we will consider you in 2032.”
Previous attempts by Kalenjin elders and religious leaders have hit a snag over what insiders close to the leaders attribute to hardliners from the two sides.
The Nandi community has cited some leaders who stood with Mzee Moi as former head of Civil Service Sally Kosgey, former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey and former Nominated MP Mark Too and Ezekiel Barng’etuny.
“The late prominent Uasin Gishu politician Jackson Kibor also served as Kanu chairman for years. This shows that the Nandi community meant well for the former President. It is time our Tugen brothers support our own,” former Nandi Council Chairman Charles Tanui said.
Community also feels they suffered a lot under the Moi regime but their support for him did not dwindle when he was in power.
They have singled out the more than 100,000 people from Talai community in Nandi who were evicted from their ancestral land but have not been compensated to date.
Community accuses the British of collective punishment by forcefully evicting them off their land, which was turned into profitable tea farms.
Baringo residents who spoke to People Daily said the Tugen community have no problem supporting the DP but on condition that their son is not humiliated.
Naftali Kandie, a Tugen elder, warned the DP of a backlash from the electorate should his allies continue hurling insults at the senator.
“We have no problem supporting the DP in all other seats so long as the Senate seat remains open for Gideon. He is our son and we love him. I am sure Gideon himself has no problem working with the DP so long as he is not humiliated,” said Kandie.
Another elder, Richard Chepchomei, said the Baringo electorate protested in 2017 and voted overwhelmingly for the Senator after they felt he was being humiliated.
“He did not even campaign but we still voted for him as he is our own son. The DP should be cautious about this. He has done a lot for us contrary to what people are saying,” Chepchomei said.
In 2017, Gideon beat Simon Chelugui of the United Republican Party, who was being fronted by the DP by a huge margin. Chelugui was later appointed Water Cabinet Secretary in the Jubilee administration.