By Ben Leshau
The scramble for the Maa vote has intensified as alliances continue shifting in the race for the 2022 presidential elections.
Deputy President William Ruto appears to be losing more ground in an area considered to be one of his strongholds.
In Laikipia, a cosmopolitan area with a large number of Samburu voters Ruto has lately suffered double blow after MP Sarah Lekorere and area Woman Rep, vocal legislator Cate Waruguru met Raila in Nairobi.
“Received Laikipia North MP Sarah Lekorere who expressed commitment to support the national programmes aimed at uniting our nation,” Raila tweeted moments after meeting the lawmaker.
Lekorere, an outspoken MP was nominated to Parliament by Ruto’s United Republican Party in 2013 shortly after the party merged with Kenyatta’s TNA to form the Jubilee Party.
The fact that she defeated ODM’s Mathew Lempurkel, a Raila confidant makes her latest move to meet Raila even more telling for Ruto.
Waruguru did not declare she has deserted Ruto but instead termed her shift as a move purely meant to support “development and national unity,”
The latest development comes barely two months after it emerged that the three Maa region county governors Samuel Tunai (Narok), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado) and Moses Lenolkulal had silently shifted camp.
All of them vocal supporters of the Deputy President in the past, have either gone mute or have openly supported Preside Uhuru Kenyatta’s side of the Jubilee.
Ruto himself has also decided to change his political strategy and has been recently playing safe by engaging in verbal tirade with either the President or ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Some analysts argue that he may be buying time and has also advised close associates to remain calm until after the referendum vote is cast.
In the last one month, the tide seems to have turned against Dr Ruto as some of his loyal Maa leaders from Narok, Laikipia and Kajiado trooped to either Raila or Uhuru side as 2022 realignments took centre stage.
Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina, a strong Raila ally, appeared to have been sulking after his attempts of chairing the powerful Public Accounts Parliamentary Committee were nipped by Raila.
The ODM side claimed that he was supported by Ruto’s allies in parliament to defeat their candidate Prof Samuel Ongeri, a claim Ledama refuted.
Although pundits expected Ruto to gain from the fall-out, the Senator ate humble pie, relinquished the seat and later visited Raila’s Capitol Hill office with Maasai elders to declare his loyalty him and the party.
After surrendering the seat, Mr Ledama was forced to surrender the seat after undertaking to apologize to his party leader for going against the party wishes.
Earlier, a distraught Ledama had declared total war against Raila by threatening to ditch the party and support DP Ruto’s bid.
In Kajiado, Governor Lenku, who was once DP Ruto’s right hand man, sped off to Uhuru’s side after being appointed as the Maa-Chapter Buliding Bridges Initiative pointman.
In Narok, it is not only Governor Tunai, who has gone missing from the DP’s functions but also MPs allied to him such as Korei Lemein (Narok South), Gideon Konchellah (Kilgoris), Lemanken Aramat (Narok
East) and Narok West’s Gabriel Tongoyo.
To rub the salt into the wound, his sole Kalenjin kinsman Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno, also recently ditched DP’s camp for bitter rival and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi’s Kanu team.
The latest Narok MP to bolt out of
DP Ruto’s camp was vocal
nominated MP David ole Sankok who announced his defection after meeting with the Kenyatta’s “Kieleweke” team self-declared spokesman MP Maina Kamanda.
Sankok, a nominated MP representing persons living with disability, hosted Kamanda at his hotel in Narok and vowed to support recent changes at the Senate.
“We fully support recent changes of the Senate leadership by our party leader President Kenyatta,” stated Mr Sankok, as he endorsed the removal of Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika, both hawkish Ruto supporters from their leadership positions in parliament.
He also hailed the recent post-election pact between Jubilee Party and independence party KANU, as a move that would strengthen the Jubilee Party.
The legislator, a long time friend of DP Ruto, lashed at the senators who snubbed a recent Parliamentary Group meeting at State House.
“As one of the nominated MP’s it is our prerogative to be fully loyal to our party leader and our party. We support the punishment of those who boycotted the meet,” he added.
In an unusual U-turn, the MP has vowed to be loyal to all the party leaders that will make an agreement with Jubilee.
“Now that KANU has joined Jubilee, I have one more party leader. Should ODM join us then I will have three party leaders and three deputy party leaders and I will be 100 percent loyal to them,” he vowed.
DP Ruto has been conspicuously silent despite the provocation by his political rivals that has seen his close allies chopped from key parliamentary positions.
but it is a change of tack whose end game may only be realized in 2021 when alliances will become clear.