By eyeing Governor’s seat, Murkomen confirms he doubts a Ruto win in 2022

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021 02:38 |
Kipchumba Murkomen. Photo/Courtesy

By Olivia Jebet

Outspoken Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen is not strange to accusations of betrayal.

His tendency to let his own people down in their hour of need has earned him his fair share of critics over the years.

Back in 2020, the senator came under fire from his own constituents after he infamously voted against a revenue allocation formula that would have seen his county gain an additional Sh398 million in equitable share.

Amid claims that Murkomen opposed the formula to settle political scores with Governor Alex Tolgos, many residents found it hard to understand how the senator could play politics with such a critical issue, all at their expense. They branded him “a noisemaker who is a stranger in his own county”.

The locals also still blame Murkomen for the fact that the Arror and Kimwarer dams, which were to be built in the county, remain a pipe dream.

Rather than fight for the mega project when it was rocked by a multi-billion shilling scandal, the senator shockingly joined ranks with Tanga Tanga politicians who were playing politics with the scam, insisting that no money had been lost.

As if not tired of his betrayal episodes, Murkomen is back at it again. He has now thrown his master, Deputy President William Ruto, and the entire Hustler camp under the bus by showing interest in vying for the Elgeyo Marakwet gubernatorial seat.

The move could be easily interpreted to mean the senator doesn’t believe Ruto will win the 2022 presidential election and is thus playing safe to avoid being condemned to the political cold for five years.

Murkomen, a close ally of the DP, is among the most prominent figures from the Rift Valley. He has served for two terms as a senator and also served as the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly, a position he unceremoniously lost in May last year for rebelling against the Jubilee Party leadership. He also sits in Ruto’s “Kitchen Cabinet” and often acts as the DP’s mouthpiece. Many Kenyans fancy him to land a position in the unlikely chance Ruto rose to the top office.

But somehow, a jittery Murkomen has become an embodiment of impatience, showing every intention that he will go for the top county job in a race that has also attracted former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.

The move has been liked to Moses Wetang’ula’s decision to vie for the Bungoma senatorial seat in 2017 despite being a co-principal in the National Super Alliance (NASA), whose candidate Raila Odinga eventually lost in the election.

If Murkomen vies for the county job, he will confirm fears that the Ruto camp is not confident of winning next year. The move is likely to see many other close Ruto allies realign themselves to fight for less influential elective positions.

Critically, such politicians will inevitably focus on securing victory in their respective races and leave Ruto facing a dire shortage of leaders who can single-mindedly champion his presidential bid.

By going for the county seat, Murkomen will also confirm the feeling that he adds no strategic value to Ruto’s camp.

Over the last four years, the senator has been one of the fiercest critics of the Handshake. He has also led from the front in politicizing the war on corruption and opposed virtually every government agenda that the head of state has pushed, regardless of how beneficial it was to Kenyans.

While some political pundits have previously explained that the senator lost touch with reality after power got into his head, others have been clear that he is all noise and some politics, with no real strategy.

Political pundit Herman Manyora at one point noted that Murkomen, though young, educated and energetic, is not effective for Ruto’s ambitions.

He stated that the Senator has let Ruto down since, as the figurehead of the DP’s political wing, one would have expected him to take charge and provide strategic thinking; which he has not.

According to Manyora, Murkomen’s demeanor is largely influenced by desire to succeed Ruto in the Rift Valley.

By seeking to become a governor, the senator is thus going for a low hanging fruit he feels will help him remain relevant in politics; whether Ruto wins the presidency or not. In the likely event that the DP fails to clinch the top job in 2022 and finds himself out of elected leadership, Murkomen could then go for the kill and try to wrestle the leadership of the Rift Valley from the grip of a weakened Ruto.

The writer is Milan Kiplagat, a regular commentator on social, economic and political affairs.

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