Politics

Why Lenku is seeking Kalonzo’s endorsement

By concentrating on Kajiado East, Lenku is, as it were, taking the fight to Tobiko’s bedroom, a clear sign he is taking her candidacy quite seriously

By Kajiado Star team

Political realignments have kicked off in earnest, in Kajiado County, with the governor’s post being the ultimate prize. The first major move was pulled of last weekend by Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, when he met with Wiper party leader, Musyoka Kalonzo.

Kalonzo was accompanied, during the visit, by a number of people from the Kamba community, and who reportedly agreed to support Lenku in the 2022 election.

With this move, strategists from the Lenku camp are expressing optimism that their man now has the Kamba vote, in Kajiado, firmly in his pocket, which in itself is a major boost to his prospects on 2022.

Lenku and his people are working on the premise that the Kalonzo factor will sway the sizeable Kamba vote, in Kajiado, to Lenku’s column. Of course, the assumption here is that Kamba’s registered to vote in Kajiado will do as Kalonzo tells them.

It should be remembered that Kajiado East constituency shares a border with the two Kamba counties of Machakos and Makueni.

Governor Lenku and his people are well aware that the 2022 elections won’t be a walk in the park and that explains why he is pulling all stops in his quest to get reelected.

Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko’s decision to go for the top seat in Kajiado, has effectively thrown a spanner into the works.

Tobiko is no pushover and of all opponents who have expressed willingness to face Lenku, she is the only one who appears to want the seat most. She is known to be a fearless and tireless campaigner, who leaves nothing to chance. So far, she has made visits to all the five constituents in Kajiado, telling whoever cares to listen that she is the only person guaranteed of delivering victory against Lenku.

The Kajiado East MP has the backing of some of the most vociferous supporters, who will to go any length in support of their candidate. Known as Peris Defense Forces (PDF), Tobiko’s troops are among the loudest and most effective on social media.

The other candidate who comes close to Tobiko is Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito, and who is Deputy President William Ruto’s point man in Kajiado. Katoo is only active in his Kajiado South backyard and Kajiado North, where he hopes the Kikuyu diaspora votes, being relentlessly courted by Ruto, will come good for him.

The other man is former NTSA secretary General, Francis Meja, who, so far, appears to have restricted his activities to his Kajiado West backyard, with a few token visits to Kajiado Central. Former Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye, by contrast, is yet to make any meaningful plunge into the race.

By concentrating on Kajiado East, Lenku is, as it were, taking the fight to Tobiko’s bedroom, a clear sign he is taking her candidacy quite seriously. Kajiado East is the second most populous constituency after Kajiado North, thanks to the migrant communities, who have chiefly settled in Kitengela.

Prior to Tobiko’s entry into the gubernatorial race, governor votes in Kajiado East were up for grabs by the respective candidates. The other candidates are now finding themselves having to work extra hard as Tobiko is determined to hold on to the 39,997 votes she got in Kajiado East, in 2017.

Lenku is hoping to improve his 2017 vote tally in Kajiado East, but that is being complicated by Tobiko, who might eat into his Jubilee leaning votes.

Though a Jubilee candidate, Tobiko is a willy operator who in 2013 and particularly 2017 managed to convince ODM and Wiper supporters to vote for her, which explains why she edged out Mary Seneta, in the Jubilee nomination, in 2017.

The governor is well aware of the potency of Tobiko’s candidature and that explains why he is willing to risk a showdown with the Senate, by constructing a primary school in Kyang’ombe area of Kitengela, which is outside his mandate.

The school will most definitely endear him to the long-suffering parents of Kitengela, who have to endure the agony of sending their children to already overcrowded schools, more than seven kilometres away.

By making a pact with Kalonzo, Lenku appears to have tightened the screw on Tobiko, who has come to depend on the Kamba votes in her two election victories. The Imaroro and Kaputiei North ward seats, in Kajiado East, are held by Wiper MCAs, which is testimony of the huge Kamba influence. Ildamat, in Kajiado Central, is another Wiper held seat.

Shorn of an outright victory in Kajiado East, Tobiko will be severely hamstrung as she approaches the rest of the constituencies in the hunt for gubernatorial votes.

The other factor in Kajiado East is Nkedianye, who also hails from the area. Nkedianye, like Tobiko, related well with the Kamba community in the area, resulting in him appointing a Kamba in his cabinet. Although he has indicated that he will be in the gubernatorial race, Nkedianye is currently playing the reluctant bride.

Political observers attribute Nkedianye’s reticence to getting things done for him by benevolent forces. This is in reference to his 2013 victory, which he largely got on a silver platter. Then, the seat was Tarayia ole Kores’ for the taking. Kores had until the election, served as the chairman of the defunct Olkejuado County Council.

A last minute disqualification of Kores, owing to faulty academic papers, saw the little-known and untested university professor take seat in the absence of a viable option.

“On his own, and in spite of incumbency, Nkedianye was ousted by newcomer Lenku, in 2017. Maybe Nkedianye is expecting to again be held by the hand like it happened in 2013,” said a political analyst who spoke to Kajiado Star on condition of anonymity.

“He should know that lightning does not strike the same place twice.”

Lenku’s sudden embrace of Kalonzo is a double edge sword. Political observers say that this is his way of hedging his bets since he might end up defending his seat on a Wiper ticket. “Lenku will, as much as possible, avoid a party nomination contest of any kind, which explains his dalliance with Kalonzo,” explains the analyst.

“Party nominations are slippery banana peels and can be source of embarrassment for incumbents. A good example is Moses Sakuda, who ended up contesting the Kajiado West parliamentary seat, in 2017, as an independent candidate, after losing the Jubilee Party nomination to George Sunkuyia, who was an MCA.”

It is being whispered that Lenku, a Jubilee leaning candidate, might find himself in a nomination contest with Tobiko and Meja, whose process he might not be in full control of. Nomination contests are notorious for their lack of transparency.

Lenku himself is a beneficiary of a nomination process – in 2017 against Kores – which saw Kores decamp to ODM protesting the authenticity of the election. He will therefore avoid a nomination contest at all costs.

Tobiko will be keenly observing the Lenku/Kalonzo developments especially in Kajiado East. Political observers posit that she might throw a spanner in the works by questioning Lenku’s genuineness towards the Kamba community.

“In 2017, Lenku focused all his energies in Kajiado North as he wooed the Kikuyu vote there,” says an analyst. “The question Tobiko will be posing to Kambas is why he has abandoned the Kikuyus and what makes them think that they might not get similar treatment from the governor?”

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