Inside Politics

Konchella entry into Narok Senate race spoils Kina’s bid

Thursday, April 21st, 2022 00:05 | By
Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchella Photo/Courtesy

A high-stakes battle for the Narok Senate seat is expected with political re-alignments in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Orange Democratic Movement already taking shape.

The race is clouded by clannism and party politics that are seen to be the fault lines along which the battle for control of Narok will be fought.

Senator Ledama ole Kina (ODM) will face off with political titans in outgoing  Governor Samuel Tunai (UDA), Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchella (Jubilee), Maasai land and human rights activist Meitamei Ololdapash (Wiper), Salaton Tompo and Nairobi-based publisher and businessman Andrew Ole Sunkuli (Wiper).

UDA, under Kenya Kwanza, has given a direct ticket to Tunai with ODM and Jubilee under the Azimio-One Kenya coalition fronting Ole Kina and Gideon Konchella respectively.

Konchella is from the Iruasi Ngishu clan. Political pundits argue that his entry into the race is a threat to ole Kina, who is seeking a second term.

 The pundits note that since both will be seeking election under one coalition, they would divide votes, which is likely to give Tunai an edge.

Konchella, a retired army Colonel, said with his vast knowledge on public issues, he is keen to ensure leaders focus on delivering their campaign pledges.

“I have been the Kilgoris MP for the last 20 years. I have vast knowledge in legislation and management of public funds. This makes me the best candidate in the oversight role and to keep  the governor on toes,” Konchella said recently.

Ole Kina on the other hand had in 2013 unsuccessfully contested the governorship seat before he bounced back with a revitalised campaign rooted on ensuring proper allocation of resources and was elected to the Senate in 2017.

He is from the minority Ildamat clan in Narok East sub-county. He has been an outspoken critic of land-grabbing around the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and an advocate of the restoration of the Maasai Mau Forest. However, he is being accused of failing to oversight the county government management of resources under the leadership of Tunai.

“Ole Kina has never articulated the misuse of county resources in the Senate that is why I want to replace him and teach him how oversight is done,” Konchella said.

Ole Kina has been banking on his legal background to ensure resources meant for the county were effectively utilised, a dream he defends he has achieved so far.

Good position

He is, however, accused of being an absentee in the county.

Due to his style of leadership, he has made friends and foes in equal measure and has been on crosshairs with the law including in 2018 when the Kenya National Cohesion and Integration Commission cautioned him against issuing utterances bordering on incitement against the Kipsigis community.

He is banking on the youth, elite and his anti-corruption crusade to realise his dream.  He has also been accused of fueling hate against one community after he claimed that most State jobs were being awarded to a particular community.

Both Konchella and Ole Kina will be facing a litmus test to clinch the seat in the August 9 polls following the entry of Tunai.

Tunai, who comes from the minority Siria clan, was elected governor for two terms on the platform of peace and unity  in the cosmopolitan county.

Tunai pledged to protect and advance the hopes and aspirations of Narok people by ensuring that no funds are wasted under his watch. He enjoys 100 per cent support from the Kipsigis community.

One community

If the electorates vote along ethnic lines as they have done in the past, then Tunai has a good chance of clinching the seat as he is assured of votes from Emurua Dikirr, Narok West and Narok South constituencies. In this case, the over 300,000 Maasai vote will then be split between Ole Kina, Konchella, Tunai, Dapash, Sunkuli and the rest as the Kipsigis community have not fielded a candidate in the seat.  

This is causing jitters among contestants because the community has the numerical strength and has historically voted as a bloc.

“Politicians who have won top seats in the county before have capitalised on the Kipsigis factor to balance their political equations,” Benard Torome, Narok Assembly Majority Leader said.

Sunkuli had cultivated a wide network when he contested the Senate seat in 2013 and had shown he was a development-oriented leader who commands huge following across the county.

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