It is easy for politicians from the Rift Valley to decide overnight about their new political moves. However, taking that leap of faith is another thing, no matter how willing their spirits are.
Every move they make is scrutinised and magnified a thousand times by both the voters and opinion shapers in the community. It behooves them to clearly convince their voters that it is actually a matter of life and death to shift to the other side of the political divide.
It is imperative to note that the community has always moved together when hunting in political savannas. And when it moves in as a unit, it surely makes a kill.
Those who develop divergent views along the way have to really think hard before making a different move for fear of unnecessarily ruffling feathers with others and writing their own political obituaries. This is so because they are still beholden to their voters, who dictate when and how to move to new territory.
Spontaneous dalliances are discouraged for the sake of forging a substantive united front, even if it means doing it without the blessings of other sub-tribes.
Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi are two leaders who have openly shown their disdain for the once upon a time political kingpin of Rift Valley, William Ruto. The two leaders are political heavyweights in their own right and this is what pushes them to refuse to be someone else’s doormat. The Bomet boss has more than 20 years of experience in politics. Gideon, albeit new in politics, has shown he has what it takes to fill his father’s political shoes. The last-born son of retired President Daniel Moi, was Baringo Central MP and is now senator.
The Kalenjin did not accept him there before during his father’s 24-year-rule. But when his father tapped him as his political heir, the people of Baringo voted for him because of their respect for Moi, who was their MP for 52 years. And Gideon has not disappointed them. When he first met the people of Baringo, he could hardly speak Tugen, his mother tongue. Throughout his childhood, Gideon lived and schooled in Nairobi. He had minimal interaction with the people of Baringo but he has now proved he can be his own man although his father still gives him some advice, which restricts him from making his own political decisions with a touch of a button.
Mzee Moi still looms large even in his sunset years and Gideon cannot dare go against his advice no matter what. Because of his not so rosy relationship with Deputy President Ruto, Gideon wants to chart his own path away from his father’s. But just when he is about to jump, his father reminds him that he is better off with President Uhuru Kenyatta, with whom he grew up and schooled with. Remember, it is Moi who picked Uhuru to be his successor, believing that in future, the Kenyattas will support Gideon to lead Kenya.This scenario puts Kanu at a crossroads.
The Baringo senator has never castigated Kanu secretary general Nick Salat for religiously participating in Cord’s events. Last week, Salat was at the launch of the National Super Alliance and even addressed the delegates, to the chagrin of some Kanu honchos such as nominated MP Zipporah Kittony and West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo. Gideon, as always, is mum on Kanu’s perceived romantic relationship with the opposition. Kanu could support President Uhuru but field candidates in other positions.
As for the Bomet governor, the situation is different. Contrary to what his political detractors say, he did not skip or change his mind about joining NASA. Second, he had not sent word to the opposition that he would attend the Bomas event. Bomet county is replete with multi-million shilling projects started by Rutto’s administration. His main agenda before the campaign period kicks off is for these projects to be up and running. Rutto is averse to the white elephants that dot other counties. And let it be clear that Rutto has never entered into any political agreement with NASA. The governor has no power to do this because his voters hold that power. They are the ones who tell him which direction to take.
Rutto has many options — he can opt for a post-election partnership with any of the coalitions. For now, he is busy strengthening his political base in readiness for the duel to retain his seat. It is a matter of life and death. The county chief has many enemies burning the midnight oil to ensure he loses to National Assembly deputy speaker Joyce Laboso, who is being pushed by the Jubilee Party to vie for selfish and parochial reasons. If she opposes Rutto, that will be her political Waterloo. The defeat will make her want to leave politics and go back to teaching.