State House Comptroller has been seeking to influence political forces on the ground in readiness for the gubernatorial battle in 2027
Only one year into the Kenya Kwanza administration, the political landscape in Kajiado County has changed rapidly, in its wake pushing into near-irrelevance former gubernatorial contestant and current State House Comptroller Katoo ole Metito.
When President William Ruto appointed Katoo to his prime position at the house on the hill, it was anticipated that he would use his influence to endear himself to the electorate and local powerbrokers, putting himself in a prime position to win the 2027 gubernatorial election.
Surprisingly, the opposite is the case.
Through a series of goofs and costly political miscalculations, Katoo has not only failed to endear himself, he has made new enemies from previously erstwhile allies, while losing a significant chunk of his support base.
Indeed, it is looking increasingly unlikely that the politician will be a force to reckon in the next general election. His greatest undoing has been his insistence on sowing discord and division when the political environment favours unity and collaboration by political actors.
It is quite apparent that Katoo has been seeking to influence political forces on the ground in readiness for the gubernatorial battle in 2027. His efforts have brought him into loggerheads with various leaders four years ahead of the election, giving his critics ample ground to destroy his political ambitions.
When he lost to Lenku, Katoo filed an election petition at the High Court in Kajiado. Given the victory by the United Democratic Alliance in the presidential election, there was apprehension about how the petition would go and its impact on the balance of power between the main political formations in Kajiado County.
President Ruto, in a statesmanlike gesture, extended an olive branch to governors from opposition parties. This marked a turning point in the political environment that remained highly polarised in the post-election period. The president’s gesture was enthusiastically embraced by not only Governor Joseph ole Lenku, but also other leaders across the political divide.
After Katoo lost his petition against Lenku’s victory, he did not move in the direction of political accommodation alongside other county leaders. Political observers say Katoo has actually worked to sabotage the emerging rapprochement, putting roadblocks and attempting to bully those on his side who try to get into a working relationship with Lenku.
Against Katoo’s expectations, the UDA majority MCAs in the County Assembly – after an initial tussle with the county government – mended fences and built a cordial relationship with Lenku, who has been present in many of the thanksgiving ceremonies held by MCAs from across the political spectrum.
The State House Comptroller’s isolations deepened even further following Senator Kanar Seki’s decision to work with Lenku for what the senator said was “for the sake of better service delivery.” Seki, who was elected on a UDA ticket, is now a marked man in the cross-hairs of Katoo.
But even before Seki made peace with Lenku, other prominent leaders were already at loggerheads with Katoo. They include nominated Senator Peris Tobiko, Kajiado West MP George Sunkuyia, his Kajiado North counterpart Onesmus Ngogoyo, and former nominated Senator Mary Seneta.
In retaliation to the loss of his close allies to Lenku, Katoo has promised state jobs to Lenku’s close allies to nudge them to dump the governor. He has also gone out of his way to begin positioning candidates for various seats in readiness that they will oppose the incumbents come the next election.
Katoo’s efforts have not been totally futile. Moses Birisha, who came second in the Kajiado Central parliamentary contest at the last election, recently declared that he had joined UDA and essentially abandoned his seat as head of the Mazingira Unit – a position to which he had been appointed by Lenku.
Timothy Kaleiya, an MP-aspirant for Kajiado West, has equally declared support for Katoo. Other prominent names to join Katoo’s camp include Paul Kibathi, who is eyeing the Kajiado North seat, and Henry Kimiti, a former MCA for Kenyawa Poka Ward now seeking the Kajiado East parliamentary seat.
Katoo is said to be working particularly hard in positioning competitors against the three ODM Members of Parliament in the county. This is to further cement his grassroots support base in the county.
But even those from his own party who have failed to support him are not spared. It is an open secret, for instance, that he has been wooing Moses Konana – Sunkuyia’s key competitor – to join his side with the promise that he will support his 2027 parliamentary bid.
These efforts are said to have derailed attention from the development agenda that had become prominent following the goodwill exhibited by the national government in working with opposition governors.
The poisoning of the political environment has also affected civil servants; for instance, the Chair of the KWS Board of Trustees, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Walter Raria Koipaton – who is from Kajiado County – skipped the celebrations following the presidential order for KWS to hand over the Amboseli National Park to the county government.
It remains to be seen what will become of the political machinations of Katoo’s premature campaigns, which have heightened political tensions across the county and turned attention away from pressing community concerns.