Chaotic ranch elections in Magadi

By Abdi Hussein

Scores of people sustained injuries and property destroyed during the  aborted Shompole group ranch officials elections in  Kajiado West  County recently in what is perceived to be a supremacy battle between Magadi member of County assembly and Kajiado governor Joseph Lenku towards the next year General election.

The 6,138 members were to elect their leaders in readiness to subdivision of their 62,680 HA land to allow each member own his portion of land. Currently the pastoralists members  live communally within the ranch.

At first, members opposed the infamous Mlolongo elections -in this system, Supporters queued behind their candidate. Candidate with the longest  queue was declared the winner.

They opted to identify the members through the register but still there were discrepancies between the register by the  ranch secretary and the one presented by Kajiado  land registrar to the chagrin of a section of members.

On the  material  day by  5pm only 600 members had been identified, irritating the members who had been locked out of the election ground.

By 6pm hell broke loose and skirmishes erupted with two factions going for each other jugulars in show of mighty. One faction is supporting the incumbent chairman Joel Karori 42,with the splinter group rooting for  30 years Mr Jesse Tiyiane.

Area MCAs Joseph Masiaya is rooting for the reelection of the incumbent Joel Karori while Mr Tiyiane is said to be governor Joseph Lenku blue eyed boy.

In the minutes the ground was turned into a battlefield, youths engaged each other in a stone throwing melee. Wailing from women filled the air, balls dust spiraled up overshadowed by red Maasai shukas worn by most youths then at the centre of skirmishes.

Aged women whose  names were identified first and allowed to enter the balloting ground took refuge in few structures within the background.

“Why are our sons turning against their brothers. We are one people and ranch elections ought not to divide us. This is pure politics not ranch election  issues,” said 70 years old Ole Leshore.

Dozen officers lobbied teargas canisters in the air to disperse the youths to no avail. Police officers were forced to erect a human shield to evacuate department of land officers and journalists from the battle ground.

In the aftermath, scores of people sustained injuries, sound system was destroyed and several vehicles were left with broken window panes.

The incumbent ranch Chairman Joel Karori claimed the elections were botched by county government officials wishing to control the ranch ahead of 2021 General elections.

“The county officials had tried to postpone the elections but we stood our ground. The county leadership has their preferred candidate to settle political scores. Let them stop interfering with group ranch elections,” said Mr Karero who was seeking a second term.

Magadi member of county assembly and deputy speaker Joseph Masiaya faulted county leaders for inciting locals and funding the skirmishes.

“We are aware some members had been given money to disrupt the elections. There is a well-orchestrated scheme by politicians aligned to the current leadership to control the ranch. We will not be cowed,” said Masiaya who was present during the melee.

Kajiado west sub county police boss Vincent Kitili said they have identified several youths who started the skirmishes and they have launched a manhunt for them.

Implicated county government offices implicated were not available for a comment.

“With the help of local administration, we have identified several youths who started the commotions. We are looking for them to face the law. We cannot accept a few inviters to risk lives of thousands others for self-gains,” said Mr Kitili.

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