The decamping of some key leaders in Narok and Kajiado counties from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee to the National Super Alliance has brought renewed focus on the perceived Maasai swing vote.
Leading lights and senior civil servants who were instrumental in wresting nearly 50 per cent of the Maa vote from Mr Odinga’s Coalition for Restoration of Democracy (Cord) in 2013, after ODM enjoyed an overwhelming support in the 2007 General Election, have in the last few months indicated support for Nasa.
The latest high-profile shift has been that of Mr Tarayia ole Kores, considered a close friend of Mr Kenyatta’s.
Mr Kores is the immediate former chairman of the Kenya Meat Commission board, and former chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Kenya.
He had been a front runner for the Kajiado governor’s seat on a Jubilee ticket, but he claims manipulation of the party primaries left him with no option but to decamp to the Opposition.
Mr Kores has since been attending Nasa rallies and has also endorsed the re-election of incumbent Governor David Nkedianye of Nasa against Jubilee’s Joseph ole Lenku.
Other leading pro-Jubilee voices in Kajiado, including Senator Peter Mositet and Kajiado North MP Moses ole Sakuda, have all thrown their weight behind Governor Nkedianye.
The move by Mr Kores also leaves Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who had publicly endorsed him for the governor’s race, in an awkward position.
“I am not surprised by the the handling of Jubilee primaries to make way for certain individuals. Close friends high up the Jubilee Party hierarchy had warned me powerful forces had sworn they would ensure I don’t get the ticket.
I shared my reservations with the President and I only participated in the Jubilee primaries because the President himself had given me his word that he would ensure integrity of the process.
It is clear to many now this did not happen. I have told them let’s compare notes on August 9.
The Maasai deserve to elect leaders of their own choice to protect their interests,” Mr Kores said.
On Thursday, the secretary- general of the Kikuyu Council of Elders (KCE), the Rev Peter Munga, sent out a statement voicing concern over the “mishandling” of politics in Kajiado and Narok counties that are largely occupied by the Maasai community.
“We have watched in horror as one Maasai leader after the other decamped from Jubilee to the Opposition, with no visible corresponding effort to respond to the damage caused.
Their grievances are known but have gone unattended.
The KCE is now taking this unusual decision to publicly appeal to the President to personally intervene in Maasailand before it is too late for the presidential vote.
KCE is of the view the President restricts himself to seeking his presidential vote and allow the electorate to make own choices of who to elect at other levels,” the Rev Munga said.
STATE HOUSE VISIT
The elders’ council was instrumental in negotiating the State House visit by Maasai Council of Elders led by William ole Ntimama last year.
Mr Ntimama died a few months later in September. According to KCE chairman Wachira Kiago, it took tedious work and many meetings to organise the delegation.
And on Friday, the chairman of the populous Purko clan Council of Elders Hassan ole Kamwaro faced a hostile delegation of elders and businessmen who he had invited to his residence in Narok to deliver a message from the Mt Kenya Foundation to arrange meetings to discuss the community’s grievances.
“I have had a difficult time. Four elders from President Kenyatta’s side reached out to me two days ago to gather Maasai elders to discuss issues behind the community trooping to the Nasa side.
But I am sorry my report to them is not good. The elders have said Uhuru abandoned us even after ole Ntimama took us to him at State House and promised to look into our grievances,” Mr Kamwaro told the Nation, adding that the 2013 success of the Jubilee ticket in the region is threatened.
In 2013, President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga split the vote in Kajiado and Narok nearly evenly in a tight race.
Some have pointed fingers at Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Nkaissery for interference in Kajiado and Narok politics while ignoring the concerns of key leaders and community grievances.