Divisions erupt in Maasailand ahead of 2017 polls

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BY KIPCHUMBA KEMEI

newsdesk@reporter.co.ke
The Maasai nation is divided after one delegation led by its self appointed spokesperson William ole Ntimama visited President Uhuru Kenyatta and another called on Cord leader Raila Odinga last month.

The Ntimama, the immediate Narok North MP led a delegation that visited State House  while another led by the Narok gubernatorial aspirant Joseph Tiampati went to Orange House the following day.

The former Heritage Minister group pledged their allegiance to the president and vowed to support the Jubilee Alliance Party in next year’s General Election while the other promised the Orange Democratic Movement leader to stick with him.

Ntimama has wanted to defect from ODM to Jubilee from 2014. The State House meeting resulted in Uhuru’s visit to Narok to attend a thanks giving ceremony for the CEO of Geothermal Development Corporation Joseph Nchoe on his new appointment.

Tiampati who is a former ICT Principal Secretary will be trying his luck for gubernatorial seat for the second time on an ODM ticket after being trounced by Samuel Tunai in the previous polls.

Though the Maasai vote according to clans and family popularity, the Nairobi visits have thrown the community into confusion and it is likely that Cord-ODM- will take majority of the seats in the area while JAP will run with the rest.

During last elections, majority of the community members were in ODM, a move that led to Jubilee losing the Kajiado Central parliamentary seat to ODM.

Majority of the electorate voted in protest after five Narok legislators led by Senator Stephen ole Ntutu were arrested and charged for leading an anti-Tunai protest in which one person was killed.

Like a tradition, whatever political decisions Narok takes the rest of the Maa counties of Laikipia, Samburu, Kajiado and part of the Njemps  of Baringo follow.

Though ageing and seemingly in poor health, the impact of Ntimama’s decision to sleep in the same bed with JAP will be felt later but in the past his words and decisions have always been taken seriously.

Ntimama supports the Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu, the senator’s younger brother for the gubernatorial seat.

He has on many occasions accused Tunai who hails from the minority Siria clan of Transmara of running down the county economy through poor management and graft, accusations that the governor has vehemently denied.

“Though personal, the decision Ntimama has taken will definitely divide the community. He is still a respected elder who has also in the past made judgments’ that are not in the interest of his community,” says Ajwang Agina, a Nairobi lawyer also a political analyst for Deutch Welle, a Germany broadcaster.

Agina adds that it is wrong for State House to be used as a shop for politicians’ interests and a campaign ground for JAP, saying that the Maasai should decide on their own which political path they wants to
take.

Ntutu says the decision to visit the president was for the good of the community because it aimed at presenting its grievances to the government.

“Supporting JAP was one of the agenda. There were other issues we presented to the president that would be beneficial to the Maa community. Things like schools and infrastructure,” he says.

He says he will be vying the seat on JAP which Tunai also intends to use to defend his seat.

Political observers are of the view that Tunai being a friend of Deputy President Willam Ruto, he will be a favoured candidate against Ntutu who earlier has been contemplating vying on a Kanu ticket.

“JAP might choose to do its nominations on the last day to make it difficult for those who would be defeated to defect to other parties. The decision by Ntutu might hurt his ambitions. He better think twice,” says Jackson Saika, the Maasai Professionals Association chairman.

He adds that unlike in the past, the community will put its votes in different baskets, saying this time round, it has nothing at stake to warrant it to vote for a certain political party.

“Unlike in the past elections where issues such as land and other forms of marginalisation were at the fore, the next polls will be purely on what individuals are set to benefit from,” he says.

Charles Nampaso, the Narok ODM chairman dismisses the Ntimama group, saying it went to eat “ugali” and it would not affect the voting pattern in the Maa speaking counties.

“Like in the 2007 and 2013 General Election, Raila or whoever will be chosen to be the Cord flag bearer will garner many votes. The State House visit was driven by a section of politicians’ stomach desires and is inconsequential,” he says.

Solomon Ntaiya, the leader of Narok Youth Congress and who accompanied the group that visited Raila avers that nothing will change the hearts of the community, adding that the president has good plans for the community and the nation at large and accuses the DP of meddling with Narok politics.

“The DP arranged for the meeting. He has interests in Narok. There is no way he will let off go Tunai who is a friend and who probably financed his United Republican Party in the last General Election.

Ntimama, Ntutu and the team will know that when JAP holds its primaries,” he adds. Raila rubbished the tour, saying Ntimama was pushed to lead the delegation against his will.

“They pushed him. They should let the old man who has decided to retire from politics relax. I know the Maasai will not abandon me even if they make State House visits hundred times,” he told his delegation.

But Ntimama whose daughter Lydia intends to give the Women Representative seat a second trial says the delegation had good intentions by  visiting State House, as the community will benefit if it supports the president and his government.

“Nobody pushed me. It was out of desire to unite the community and press for issues affecting it addressed,” Mr Ntimama the politician who in the past championed for the recognition of his community said.

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