Uasin Gishu County gubernatorial candidate, Bundotich Zedekiah Kiprop alias Buzeki says he is not shaken by the rare endorsements that his rival Jackson Mandago has received from both Jubilee Party and Nasa.
Mr Buzeki is vying as an independent candidate.
READ: Governor Jackson Mandago responds to Nasa
In a race that is becoming more interesting with only nine days to go to the polls, Nasa principals endorsed Mandago’s candidature while campaigning in Eldoret on Wednesday, thus making him the first governor to be backed by both sides of the political divide.
However, Mr Buzeki, a renowned businessman, termed Nasa’s endorsement as “the kicks of a dying horse”.
“It does not change the fact that we are going to send him home come August 8,” he told the Sunday Nation.
Mr Buzeki said Nasa’s endorsement has proven that Mr Mandago is a “traitor”.
“Jubilee’s candidate is now actively campaigning for the opposition yet he has been going around saying I am a mole,” he said.
He said the endorsement of his rival by the opposition was the “icing on the cake” for his campaigns.
“Now people see us for who we are. Nasa’s move has strengthened my campaigns and I am confident that I will win by more than 60 per cent,” Mr Buzeki said.
He added that this week’s endorsement of Mr Mandago by Luhya leaders is inconsequential and not genuine.
“How does he expect to start a relationship in six days with people whom he has abused and discriminated against for five years?” He posed.
Mr Mandago defeated Mr Buzeki during Jubilee primaries by garnering 126, 681 votes against the latter’s 82,869.
Mr Buzeki disputed the results and quit Jubilee to vie for the seat as an independent.
READ: Buzeki to vie as independent against Mandago
He is buoyed by recent opinion polls that indicated he had turned tables on the governor.
An opinion poll released by Infotrak two weeks ago showed Mr Buzeki leading by 54 per cent against Mr Mandago’s 42 per cent.
Mr Buzeki attributed this to the groundwork he has done to win over the minority communities in the county, who hold the swing vote.
The minority vote comprising mainly of the Kikuyu, Luhya and Luo communities constitutes about 180,000 votes out of 450,055 registered voters in the county.
While both candidates are Kalenjins, Mr Mandago enjoys the overwhelming support of his Nandi sub-tribe who make up around 45 per cent of the voters in the county, while Mr Buzeki has the overwhelming support of the Keiyo who make up about 15 per cent of the vote.
Both candidates have gone for broke to win the support of the “non-local” tribes, leading to the recent strange political alignments in the county.
However, it is widely believed that Mr Buzeki enjoys the overwhelming support of the minority communities.
The businessman’s rallying call has been his intention to stop the perceived discrimination against non-locals, which he claims has been perpetrated by the current county administration.
Mr Mandago is accused of promoting tribalism by appointing only Kalenjins to key county positions.
On Saturday, Mr Buzeki met members of the Luo and Luhya communities at a hotel in Eldoret.
“The meeting was to affirm to them my commitment to provide an inclusive leadership that benefit us all,” he said.
This came just a day after Mr Mandago and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi publicly declared their support for Mr Charles Abwonji, an ODM candidate for Langas Ward in the county.
READ: Jubilee’s Mandago now endorses Nasa aspirant
Mr Mandago appeared to be returning a favour done to him on Wednesday by Nasa deputy leader Kalonzo Musyoka, co-principals Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Moses Wetang’ula and Mr Isaac Ruto, who appeared to endorse the governor’s re-election bid during a rally at 64 Stadium, Eldoret.
Mr Sudi, who has stood by Mr Mandago in the gubernatorial battle, said no one had restricted them from supporting anyone; although he made clear they supported President Kenyatta’s re-election.
Mr Mandago’s relationship with the party sponsoring him for re-election has not been smooth and it was claimed before the primaries that he had threatened to quit it if he lost to his erstwhile supporter turned-fierce critic, Mr Buzeki.
Last month, President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto made an extensive tour of the county where they asked voters to vote for Mr Mandago.
Mr Buzeki rejected calls by the DP to step down in favour of the governor.
Two Jubilee MCAs, Langas’ Francis Muiya and Huruma’s Peter Chomba have led the group that has been opposing Mr Mandago’s candidature.