Curtains c*me down on vocal Serut

Thursday, February 17th, 2022 00:09 | By

by  Jeremiah Kiplang’at

The former Mt Elgon MP John Bomett Serut succumbed to cancer yesterday morning at a Nairobi hospital, aged 67.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Michelle yesterday morning.

In a tweet, Michelle said: “Rest in peace to the love of my life. I hate that you won’t see my children. I hate that you won’t get to see the woman I become but I’ll make you proud. I love you dad.”

Serut was largely a popular actor in the unstable politics of Mt Elgon since he came into the limelight in 2002 when he was first elected MP on a Kanu ticket. He succeeded Joseph Kimkung, who had served for only one term.

Serut lost the seat to longtime rival Fred Kapondi in 2007. Kapondi was elected on an ODM ticket just a few days after he was released from custody. He had been arrested and charged with robbery with violence in a court in Webuye in Bungoma county.

Serut recaptured the seat in 2013 as an independent candidate against then United Republican Party wave in the region. However, he lost the seat again to Kapondi in 2017.

Gifted debater

The constituency, now in Bungoma county, is one of the oldest in the country and before 1997, it had been represented by only two MPs—Daniel Naibei Moss (1963-79) and Wilberforce Kisiero (1979-97)—both members of Kanu. 

Serut leaves behind a checkered legacy. For long, those close to him praised him for standing firm against attempts to alienate his constituents, especially after the emergence of the murderous Sabaot Lands Defence Force (SLDF) in 2006.

He was said to have supported the resettlement of hundreds of squatters in the hotly disputed Chepyuk III Settlement Scheme, attracting the wrath of SLDF forces, who opposed it.

While appearing before the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) in 2011 in Bungoma, Serut wept as he recalled how he had escaped death by a whisker after the militia targeted him.

However, his rivals have always accused him of co-sponsoring SLDF although he was never charged for the group’s atrocities in the region.

SLDF was linked to top politicians from the area with Serut and Kapondi often trading accusations over the same.

Retired President Kibaki deployed the military for the Operation Okoa Maisha in 2008 to extinguish the militia linked to hundreds of killings and maiming in the disputed Chepyuk scheme.  

Serut served as assistant minister for National Development under Kibaki regime after the 2005 referendum. He was very active in the National Assembly during his two terms. His contributions that covered different issues have been captured well in the hansard. 

 After he lost his seat in the last elections, he went underground until last year October when Michelle issued a public appeal for help in settling a Sh20 million hospital bill he had incurred as he was being treated for cancer. 

She wrote: “Hey guys, so a lot of you don’t know me but I’m here requesting your help today. My father’s name is John Serut and he’s been unwell for a while now. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January  2020. Since then, we’ve had medical bills totalling to about 20 million.”

 Yesterday Deputy President William Ruto led politicians to condole with his family.

 “Serut was a firm, bold and vocal politician who served the people of Mt Elgon with distinction. He was a gifted debater, persistent and a fighter for equal justice. We honour the rich legacy he leaves behind,” said Ruto.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, who worked closely with Serut when he was Bungoma governor between 2013 and 2017, praised him for always standing for his people’s rights.

“A charismatic and development conscious leader, he distinguished himself as a tireless champion of the rights of his marginalised Sabaot community. 

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said Serut was “a hardworking and dependable leader who bolstered unity and development of Bungoma.”

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