Ruto in dilemma as 3 Bomet allies seek his blessings
by Jeremiah Kiplang'at
In Kipsigis dialect, Bomet means an enclosure, constructed as part of the homestead, where cattle are kept when they return home from the grazing fields in the evening.
Forefathers, who named this largely green and wet region in the South Rift after a cattle’s enclosure, probably wanted their offspring to always go back home, live peacefully, develop and leave the area a better place for generations after them.
But this is not always the case, especially during elections that occasionally create tension.
With less than eight months to the August General Election, men and boys have been separated as the battlefield clears up for what could easily turn out to be a brutal fight without much external interference.
Former Governor Isaac Ruto, incumbent Hillary Barchok and Petroleum Chief Administrative Secretary John Mosonik have expressed interest. Isaac is Chama Cha Mashinani party leader and has said he will vie for the seat on its ticket but will support Deputy President William Ruto’s quest for presidency.
Barchok and Mosonik have indicated they will seek the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket during nominations slated for next April.
The trio are likely to push the DP on the horns of dilemma because all enjoy a warm relationship with him and have already endorsed his presidential candidature.
“The political inclination is the biggest determinant of who will be elected governor. If one is not properly aligned with DP Ruto chances are high they will fail. It was so in 2017, it will be so in 2022. Nothing much has changed that is why Isaac has indicated he will support Ruto’s candidature.
The DP is still popular with the residents and voters will go with who he supports,” said Kipng’eno Duncan, Managing Partner, SavvyPol Consulting Group.
In 2017, the DP overtly pushed for Joyce Laboso’s candidature long before the elections and ensured she won the seat during the polls. His interest in the seat was fuelled by his fallout with incumbent Isaac Ruto who had thrown his weight behind Opposition chief Raila Odinga.
The DP found favour in Laboso, a second-term MP from Sotik, who easily won the race and became the first woman governor for the county.
However, she succumbed to cancer in July 2019 and was replaced by her deputy, Barchok.
But the dynamics have since changed. Isaac is now fully in the DP’s camp although he remains the leader of CCM.
Barchok is also seeking reelection after serving the remaining three years of the late governor.
However, the entry of Mosonik into the hitherto two-horse race has disrupted the order.
Mosonik has been moving around the county the last few months promising to exploit his experience in national government service to bring change to the devolved unit.
“My dream is to see young and upcoming entrepreneurs from Bomet thrive and develop their own empires for the growth of the county. To ensure this succeeds I plan to establish a hustler’s kitty and pump colossal amounts of funds to support these traders,” said Mosonik said Tuesday.
As a long-serving technocrat with tenures stretching from the grand-coalition government (2008-2013) to the two terms of Jubilee administration (ending August, 2022), Mosonik considers his candidature fresh and untainted owing to his freshness in politics. He has also often flaunted his wide connections in government he says will be useful if elected to office next year.
Other than flashing his scorecard in the three years he has been in office, Barchok is also banking on his association with the late governor who is still celebrated posthumously by the residents.
Barchok has attempted to institute radical policies including entering into a contract with Iran for the direct sale of tea processed in Bomet to the Middle East country.
Although the deal was marred by uncertainties and was fervently dismissed by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Barchok stuck to it saying it would help expand the market for the locally processed tea. He has visited Iran a couple of times in the last one year and hosted the Iranian ambassador to Kenya as he pushed for the success of the project.
The governor said he will bank on what he has done in three years for reelection.