Opinion

Why voters must reject Katoo’s threats

That some residents may be cut off from receiving any assistance from a sitting governor would be the height of impunity

ANN MONIREI

Gubernatorial aspirant Katoo ole Metito recently struck a raw nerve when he warned Kajiado residents that those who failed to vote for him will gain nothing from his administration, in the event he wins the seat in the August polls.

While some of his supporters have been quick to engage damage control measures and have said that their kingpin was misquoted, it behoves Katoo to personally clear the air. As it is, the message has been sent out clearly to all Kajiado residents that they will be discriminated against if Katoo comes to power and they or their specific wards and constituencies are deemed to have voted against him.

Apart from the arrogance, sheer impudence and bad judgement in making such a pronouncement while seeking votes, the issue of citizen rights arises from the aspirant’s unfortunate remarks.

As a longstanding Member of Parliament for Kajiado South and former Cabinet minister, is this perhaps how he has been running public affairs by denying his critics development projects, bursaries, jobs, tenders and other benefits that ought to be acquired using set criteria and standards?

What is particularly worrying is that the legislator found it necessary to sound his warning twice: At a political rally in Kipeto area of Keekonyokie Ward on November 6, 2021, and again at a similar rally in Oloirien area of Keekonyokie Ward on March 17.

The stage is therefore set for a frightening display of political patronage under Katoo should he win the election.

It is unfortunate that any candidate seeking public office would have the audacity to threaten voters in this manner, especially for a critical position such as the governor of a county.

Indeed, at the level of the devolved unit, the governor’s office plays a critical role in resource allocation to meet various needs of the people.

Moreover, where assistance is required from the national government, the governor’s office would be expected to play an important role in petitioning it on behalf of county residents.

That some residents may be cut off from receiving any assistance from a sitting governor would be the height of impunity. Development is a constitutional right regardless of how any individual or bloc of voters decides to vote in an election.

This is premised on the fact that all citizens are taxpayers. Development projects are therefore not a favour for Katoo or anyone else to wield a big stick in an attempt to compel voters to elect him. Moreover, jobs and tenders ought to be awarded competitively.

The loud silence from other county leaders is equally unfortunate.

Incumbent Governor Joseph ole Lenku has been criticised for overlooking his supporters and granting favours to those who opposed his election in 2017 in order to lure them to his side, thus winning new friends while alienating old ones. Katoo now hopes to do the opposite.

It is time that these opportunities for political patronage be eliminated. This can be achieved not only through maintaining a system of effective checks and balances at both the county and national levels, but also by electing leaders of integrity.

Anyone who promises to punish voters for exercising their democratic right ought to be barred from the polls on grounds of integrity; if allowed to compete, it is hoped that voters would have the wisdom to reject such a candidate.

In the absence of an outright apology from Katoo, this is an option that Kajiado residents may well want to consider.

Ann is born in Oloosios area of Keekonyokie Ward, but lives in Dallas, Texas in the US

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