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Kipchumba Murkomen: Squatter's son down but not out

From the humble backgrounds of Embobut Forest, Murkomen earned a good education, locally and in South Africa and the US

In Summary

• When the Jubilee purge started, the Elgeyo Marakwet was among the first casualties: He was removed as the Senate Majority leader.

• But this did not stop him as his voice in the Senate is still loud and influential, especially now with revenue formula

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen
Image: COURTESY

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen has been an influential politician since Jubilee came to power in 2013.

In his first term, he was picked as the Senate Deputy Majority leader. He was close to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, and with that, close to power. He often said he talks with the President and the DP. 

But he is justified to be proud of where he has reached. As he had done in his early days of schooling, he skipped pre-unit and went straight into primary school, this time in politics.

 

From the humble backgrounds of Embobut Forest, Murkomen earned a good education, locally and in South Africa and the US, came back and taught law at Moi University before joining politics.

Ahead of the 2013 polls, he was a popular political analyst on Citizen TV, and it happens he was also doing the politics. The son of a squatter beat former powerful Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott in the Senate race, garnering more than three times his vote. Standing on a URP ticket,  he polled 87,658 votes against Biwott's  24,377.

With an impressive first term, former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo didn’t stand a chance in 2017. Murkomen retained the seat with over 80 per cent of the vote. Soon after the polls,  he was named the chairman of the Rift Valley Parliamentary Group. Add to this the Majority leader post. Murkomen had gotten the political muscle. And he flexed it.

Things, however, started going south as soon as Jubilee settled for the second term. First came the evictions from the Mau, which he opposed — of course having been brought up there.

Then followed calls that he resigns for contradicting the President. He said there was democracy in Jubilee.

What followed was what he called the undermining of the Deputy President. In June 2018, he accused people close to the President of blocking his friend's chances of becoming President..

He also protested against  Uhuru's call for an audit in the war on corruption, saying it targeted Ruto. In March this year, he said Ruto had been stripped of all State responsibilities.

 

When the rebellion got too much, the Jubilee purge started, and Murkomen was among the first casualties: He was removed as the Senate Majority leader.

But this did not stop him as his voice in the Senate is still loud and influential. His tweets, too. 

Of particular interest is the stalemate on the county revenue sharing formula. With other like-minded senators under One Kenya Movement, Murkomen has opposed the formula they say seeks to disadvantage marginalised counties. For eight times, they have not agreed.

He says their position is predicated on "personal conviction and belief that the sharing of national revenue should not —and must not — be a zero-sum game where for some counties to gain, others must lose".

He adds that when he was elected, he was given the mandate to ensure resources from the national government are devolved, to defend devolution and was entrusted with the task of fighting for the betterment of the lives of all Kenyans. 

But you would say Murkomen has always been a performer, as he previously told a local daily about his time in school. He joined his dream School — St Patricks High School, Iten — after which he joined the University of Nairobi to read law.

He later won a scholarship to study a Masters of Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and latter attended the American University’s Washington College of Law.