Hope for fair sharing of power in new era
Posted Thursday, February 2 2012 at 00:00
The Keiyo and Marakwet have a long history of rivalry.
During the 24-year rule of former President Moi, the Marakwet felt marginalised as their cousins used their leaders’ closer ties to the President to get a bigger share of the cake.
Many Keiyos, under the patronage of Nicholas Biwott, were given top jobs in the civil service.
Roads, water and power supply in Keiyo were also much better than in Marakwet. Indeed, it was because of this isolation that the Marakwets fought so hard to have their own district with its headquarters at Kapsowar.
But with the new Constitution, the two groups have once again been placed in one county and the Marakwet fear the dominance of the more populous Keiyo will return.
“It’s the bitter past that made us reject the new Constitution but now that we are in it we have to make good of the situation and ensure that the county is able to fully harness its huge economic potential,’’ said Marakwet East MP Lina Kilimo.
She said the new dispensation was good because unlike in the single party era, power will not be concentrated in one person.
Elders from both communities have been meeting and so have professionals from the county; an indication that the political landscape will be inclusive, Mrs Kilimo said.
But even with the new approach to politics, enormous challenges face political leaders seeking seats.
Poor roads, weak marketing, insecurity, declining academic performance, high poverty and inaccessible health care are just some of the issues future leaders will have to address.
Most of the area was scarred by cattle rustling and banditry and to assure investors of security, the new leadership will have to work out how to address continued crime, blamed on illegal possession of weapons.
It is because of these challenges that the locals say the governor’s position requires a technocrat who will turn around the county by winning investor confidence with a view to ensuring untapped resources are fully exploited.
Agriculture is the economic mainstay of the area as most residents are either fruit farmers or keep cattle.
Other ventures include growing cereals, pyrethrum and vegetables.
Poor roads are the main problem for farmers trying to get their goods to market while modern irrigation is needed in the Kerio Valley if the county wants to produce enough food.
Exploitation of tourism sector and creating athletics training camps to promote sports are other issues that the locals say need political goodwill to succeed.
The governor’s seat has attracted many contenders including an assistant commissioner of the Kenya Revenue Authority, Mr Abraham Talel, former Kenya Commercial Bank manager David Kimosop, and Equity Bank’s Small Medium Enterprises chief Timothy Biwott.