Home Opinion/Column Why Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago will retain his seat

Why Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago will retain his seat

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A bruising contest is ongoing in Uasin Gishu County as Incumbent Governor Jackson Mandago faces Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich alias Buzeki, in battle to retain his seat.

It is widely anticipated that Governor Mandago will emerge the victor on August 8 to clinch a second term.

To explicate, first, Buzeki lost the governorship contest to Mandago in JP primaries. Mandago was declared winner with 126,681 votes against Buzeki’s 82,869 – a margin of nearly over 50,000 votes.

Governor Mandago won in most polling stations across the county including those in Buzeki’s perceived support base – Ainabkoi constituency.

Apparently, Buzeki does not have a significant political clout in his backyard. This is attributed to the fact that the billionaire businessman spent the better part of his life away from home and despite being a man of means, is reported to have done zilch for the locals.

Second, Buzeki has lost the support of forces that were allegedly behind his candidature during JP primaries. Prior to the primaries, Buzeki was branded an establishment project sponsored by individuals in Deputy President William Ruto’s office, claims that the businessman tried to refute, but in futility.

DP Ruto has since come out in public to endorse Governor Mandago and call on Buzeki to quit race. This has complicated the race for Buzeki who analysts say, benefited from public’s perception that the businessman had the backing of the DP.

With the forces that were allegedly pulling strings behind the curtains backing off, and with the anticipation that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will conduct a credible election, the race for Uasin Gishu governorship is now viewed as a contest on a level playing field.

Third, Uasin Gishu is largely a cosmopolitan county and ethnic arithmetic plays in Governor Mandago’s favour. Mandago hails from the Nandi community who are the majority making up around 50% of the voters. Buzeki on the other hand is a Keiyo who make up around 25%. Non-Kalenjins make up around 25% of the voters.

Governor Mandago has endeared himself with Non-Kalenjins by ensuring the existence and continuity of an enabling environment for doing business in the county, notably in Eldoret town. The county chief has also ensured equity and fairness in service delivery across the county.

In September last year when Mandago led a protest to reverse the appointment of Professor Laban Ayiro, the acting Vice Chancelor of Moi University, on grounds of merit, the media portrayed the Governor in bad light. Despite the negative publicity, the locals understand that Mandago was harbouring genuine grievances.

Fourth, Governor Mandago’s decision to retain his Deputy, Daniel Chemno as running mate is key. Analysts have observed that the move is strategic. Chemno belongs to the Keiyo community who are perceived to be Buzeki’s support base. He enjoys huge support in his home, Ainabkoi and will eat into a significant junk of the Keiyo vote.

The choice of running mate is crucial because it may tilt the outcome on August 8. Buzeki picked Dr Samson Cheruiyot who has been working at the Kisii University. Cheruiyot comes from Turbo sub-county where Governor Mandago enjoys overwhelming support.

Analysts have observed that the selection of Cheruiyot while aimed at balancing the ethnic arithmetic is an exercise in futility.

Cheruiyot belongs to the Nandi community who feel are on the brink of losing all the major seats in the county despite being the majority. Margaret Kamar and Gladys Boss Shollei who belong to the Keiyo community are in pole position to clinch the Senate and the Women Rep seats respectively. It is highly unlikely the Nandi will abandon the county top job and settle for the DG post. It is expected that the Nandi will cast their ballots to Governor Mandago almost to the last man.

Fifth, Margaret Kamar and Gladys Boss Shollei who belong to the Keiyo community, enjoy support from the Nandi and it is expected that the Keiyo will repay the favour by supporting Governor Mandago.

Lastly, Governor Mandago is banking on his impressive development record to clinch a second term in office.

Most often, incumbents seek reelection on the platform of their performance. They emphasize on their development records in campaigns to bolster their chances of reelection. Governor Mandago has however not delved much into the issue of his performance given that the public is very much aware that he has made significant achievements the last four years to deserve reelection.

From the financial year 2013/2014 to 2016/2017, Uasin Gishu County received a total of only KShs 19.864 billion from the National Treasury. This is a paltry amount in comparison to what other counties received within the same period. Kiambu county for instance received KSHs 30.021 billion. Turkana County received a whopping KSHs 39.429 billion.

With the relatively small amount in comparison to other counties, and the level of development witnessed in Uasin Gishu within the last four years, it can only imply that county funds were properly utilized.

Both camps have intensified their campaigns in bid to outdo each other as Election Day draws closer. It is exactly 1 month to the polls. Tick tock.

COSMAS K. ROP

The writer is a graduate in Political Science and Public Administration – University of Nairobi

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