Rift woman rep aspirants fight for UDA

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 00:00 |
Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Boss Shollei, who chairs the delegated legislation committee. Photo/PD/FILE

Wycliff Kipsang 

Contest for Woman Rep seats in North Rift backyard has intensified as aspirants eye the newly formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.

The party is associated with Deputy President William Ruto. In Nandi county, two new entrants have expressed interest to unseat incumbent Dr Tecla Tum. 

People Daily has, however, established that Tum is reluctant to defend her seat, but is instead eyeing a parliamentary seat. 

Tum has in the recent past come under fire after she was listed as among the most silent MPs by pollsters, which her opponents are now using against her.

Tum, a research professor, has since defended herself saying: “I attend all committee sessions. The ratings do not represent the reality on the ground,” she said.

Former Woman Rep Zipporah Kering, who was seen as a possible contestant to recapture the seat she lost to Dr Tum is said to be contemplating to vie for a parliamentary seat. 

Among those eyeing the UDA ticket include Kilibwoni Ward Rep Cynthia Muge and former Multimedia University Students Association Secretary General Sheila Jelimo. 

 Higher level

Jelimo has already hit the ground running endearing herself to the electorate while also popularising her agenda. 

“I have always had interest in politics. I want to capture the Woman Rep seat to serve our people at a higher level,” said the soft-spoken Jelimo.

Muge shrugged off a fierce competition in 2017 to be elected as an Independent candidate. She is among the youngest MCAs in the region.

She is credited with active debater in the Assembly, especially in fighting for the rights of women and the girl child.

“My dedication as an elected leader is to defend the rights of the people I represent.  I want to go for the Woman Rep seat to defend this at a national level,” Muge said. 

In Baringo, the 2022 race is expected to play out between Kanu and UDA.

The race is by extension seen as a battle between Deputy President William Ruto and Senator Gideon Moi, who have been engaged in a protracted supremacy war for control of the vote-rich Rift Valley ahead of the 2022 polls. 

Those seeking to unseat Gladwell Cheruiyot (Kanu) on UDA ticket include Susan Chesiyna, who came second in 2017 and Rebecca Lomong’, who is making a debut in elective politics.

Lomong’ is a member of the Baringo County Assembly Public Service Board.

Chesiyna, chairlady of Foundation of Women Rights, Nakuru Chapter said having been born and bred in Baringo she is better placed to take the seat.

Primary focus

“I have  experienced firsthand the challenges one has to endure while growing up here,” she said.

Lomong’ said her primary focus, if elected, would be women’s economic empowerment. 

“Bottom-up is the approach to economic stability.  When Baring realises their economic goals through setting up and improving businesses, we will be able to provide for our families,” said Lomong’.

She said that being a Pokot but married to a Tugen, she will be a bridge in uniting the two warring communities who have been engaged in bloody conflicts for years.

The race has, however, been low-keyed in Uasin Gishu county where Gladys Shollei is widely seen as a favourite candidate to retain her seat on a UDA ticket.

Shollei, a lawyer, has been an ardent supporter of Ruto’s and has been representing the new outfit in cases in court.

She has also been among UDA politicians campaigning for various candidates in recently held by-elections. 

“My track record speaks for itself. UDA is the party to watch in 2022,” Shollei said.

Others interested in the seat on a UDA ticket are Rael Lelei, who lost the Jubilee party primaries to Shollei in 2017 and Ruth Maraba. 

Political pundits perceive the more than 100,000 votes from the non-Kalenjins as another crucial factor, which will tilt the outcome of the election.

“A candidate who will win the hearts of non-Kalenjins will have an upper hand in any election in Uasin Gishu,” said Philip Chebunet, an Eldoret-based political commentator.

In West Pokot, the supremacy wars between Kanu and UDA is also expected to play out.

In West Pokot, Lilian Tomitom, who was elected on a Jubilee ticket said she will defend the seat on a UDA ticket.

 In Elgeyo Marakwet, former Woman Rep Dr Susan Chebet, who was floored by Jane Chebaibai is seeking a political comeback on a UDA ticket. UDA has intensified registration of new members countrywide.

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