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BATTLE INTENSIFIES

DP allies oppose Senate bid by pro-Ruto Mandago

Analysts say the bitterness could make it difficult for Mandago to claim UDA nomination for Senate

In Summary

• The governor has unexpectedly faced hostility from Ruto led by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi who wants Mandago to drop his bid, campaign for Ruto  and seek a national seat.

• Debate rages on why Sudi so vigorously opposes Mandago. It is said insiders in Ruto's camp, and possibly the DP himself, are aware of a scheme to tame Mandago politically.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who leads the campaign against Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.
SUDI: Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who leads the campaign against Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.
Image: FILE:

Outgoing Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago is facing opposition in his Senate bid from some of Deputy President William Ruto's allies who say his support is lukewarm and he is not helpful.

Ruto allies, who asked not to be named, said Mandago has not helped them financially and has 'eaten everything alone'.

“The governor has been operating as lone ranger and showing tepid support for the DP. He has proved to be unreliable and cannot stand with anyone. We don’t need such a selfish person," an MP allied to UDA said.

He sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The governor has unexpectedly faced hostility from some DP allies, who want him to drop his Senate bid and seek a national seat.

His main critic, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, and Mandago himself are Ruto allies.

Debate is raging in the county about why Sudi so publicly and vehemently opposes Mandago. It is claimed that insiders, or even the DP himself, are aware of a plan to tame Mandago politically.

Mandago and Sudi exchange barbs almost daily. 

Sources close to the governor say he was surprised at the nasty turn of events as Sudi attended several public meetings and denounced him for not giving way to fresh blood. He said Mandago should be campaigning for DP Ruto.

The county boss insists he will run for Senate because he has the experience, a good development track record and knows what the people want and need. His performance is considered good.

Mandago has invested heavily in healthcare and infrastructure though critics say he has been taking credit for donor-funded projects, asserting they were built by the county.

Governor Jackson Mandago reading the Bible during a church fundraising at Soy in Uasin Gishu on December 5.
UNDER FIRE: Governor Jackson Mandago reading the Bible during a church fundraising at Soy in Uasin Gishu on December 5.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

In the ensuing battle, analysts say Mandago faces huge political risks and could even fail to get the UDA nomination to vie for Senate against the incumbent, Margaret Kumar. She has not said whether she will defend her seat.

Sources within county political circles told the Star that some of Ruto's allies have been waiting for a chance to 'teach him a lesson'.

Critics accuse Mandago of being an opportunist, boasting he is self-made politically.

"Let him dare run for the Senate and we will show him he needs other people and selfishness does not take him anywhere," the UDA man said.

Sudi is the bulldog and recently paraded two other Senate aspirants — former Kass FM presenter Robert Kemei and Kipchumba Karori — who hope to face off with the county boss in next year’s nominations.

Sudi said Mandago should let other people like Kemei and Karoli  run for  the  Senate as he goes out to support the DP.

He has even taken to the airwaves to bash Mandago in what appears a well-orchestrated scheme to take him down.

But Mandago is adamant he will serve Uasin Gishu in the Senate and will crush his opponents for the ticket and the seat.

"I know where they sit and they plan to abuse me all over but I am not a joke the way they think," Mandago said recently at Moi's Bridge.

“Sudi has even claimed I am from Turkana but that doesn't bother me because Turkanas are also human beings and Kenyans," Mandago said.

FEW OPTIONS

Mandago's options are limited. He could run as an independent. He could join he Orange Party where  ODM chief Raila Odinga saved the governor by backing him against businessman Bundotich Kiprop Buzeki in 2017

Mandago retorted that Sudi should stop thinking he can control Uasin Gishu politics.

Mandago definitely has his supporters.

On Monday they loudly supported his Senate bid, saying he has performed well as governor and will do even better as senator.

“We have no problem with Mandago and, in fact, we will campaign for him because we know he is a performer who will properly oversight the county as senator," youth spokesman Joseph Chunba said.

Mandago's options are limited. He could decamp and run as an Independent or join the Orange party where ODM chief Raila Odinga saved him by backing him against businessman Bundotich Buzeki in the last elections.

Other MPs and leaders in the region have opted to remain silent on the row between Mandago and Sudi. Some have said they do not know the actual source of the row and do not want to burn their fingers.

Mandago’s top county chiefs are also accused of frustrating county employees. Some are bitter for being sacked, suspended or denied promotions on flimsy claims, while other resent those who were promoted ahead of them.

(Edited by V. Graham)