BY LINET MINAYO – SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER
As the general election beckons, the hotbed of Kajiado politics in the east is almost fully charged – guns are blaring in all directions.
This time around, the Kajiado East parliamentary race is most likely going to be a two-horse race between experienced politicians Kakuta ole Maimai (ODM) and Senator Mary Seneta (UDA).
But a recent popularity poll done on social media by Kajiado News Update surprised many after former Imaroro MCA, Timothy Sayiore, shot up against the grain.
Sayiore brought down Maimai and Seneta and relegated them to second and third position respectfully.
Sayiore’s popularity improvement in the last one month has surprised many, with some claiming Maimai’s star could have reached political “menopause”.
Maimai used to derive his support from Imaroro, Kaputiei North, Kitengela and Oloosirkon wards, but how Sayiore brought him down still remain a myth.
As for Seneta, who polled 16.52 per cent of the total 569 votes, it still remains a myth too how she took the third position despite DP Ruto’s popularity rising in Kitengela.
KNU’s CEO, Kurgat Marindany, said his media outlet, that is gaining popularity in the region, will carry out many more poll test across the county in the months to come.
“We are doing this so as to cause the people awareness about elections and their role in the important exercise of voting during general elections,” said Marindany.
Even though none of the three has publicly declared their political parties, word has it that the political game will echo alignments to Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Seneta and Maimai are focused and nationalistic in character, and the people of the Kajiado East constituency, as usual, will have a dramatic and interesting race.
Others, who have declared their interest in this race will be a non-starter, and the focus will be on these three candidates, a trio of whom seldom speak in public but are rich in ideas.
The three candidates have bases in the vote-rich Kitengela town. Seneta has been elected once to parliament and nominated once to the Senate.
Maimai, one of the fiercest politicians, has attempted to capture the seat twice and come a close second in both.
In 2013, Maimai tried his hand in politics and was among the first politicians to contest the newly created constituency – Kajiado East — after it was hived out of Kajiado North and Kajiado Central constituencies.
He contested against MP Peris Tobiko and came a close second. He petitioned the election in court but lost.
In the following general election in 2017, Maimai contested the seat and lost again to Tobiko, who has since shown interest in the gubernatorial seat in 2022.
Seneta first joined politics in 2013 after quitting her job in the NGO world and successfully contested the Kajiado Women Rep seat and won it overwhelmingly.
The former teacher won the seat with a large margin, and in 2017 she abandoned her interest in the seat and sought the Kajiado East parliamentary seat.
She lost to Tobiko and the party later nominated her to the Senate after withdrawing her election petition case against the winner.
But what is making Maimai and Seneta tick in their political lives?
Maimai has grown to be a polished orator, convincing and action-oriented.
Seneta is a great debater on the floor of the House and truthful to her electorate. She might not equal Maimai in public speaking, but she has a significant following.
Maimai, using personal resources, has built schools, constructed boreholes and equipped several schools with books.
Although women have dominated Kajiado East politics since 2013, the people of the larger Kaputiei region are eagerly waiting for the 2022 general election to see what happens.
While Maimai supporters could still be intact among ODM members, considered diehard supporters of opposition doyen Raila Odinga, of Ruto’s UDA outfit, is yet to be felt in Kajiado East.
With Daniel Kanchori (Jubilee), David Parseina (Wiper), Sayiore (Jubilee) and others coming in to contest the seat, there is a likelihood that they will eat into Seneta’s and Maimai’s votes.
Kanchori, who is currently serving Governor Joseph Lenku as a personal assistant, lost his Oloosirkon MCA seat because of campaigning for his boss in 2017.
After the recent KNU popularity poll placed him in the last position, he called to retort: “How can you carry out an important exercise like this without informing me?”
KNU, according to Marindany, never calls anyone when running such polls.
“We are not obligated to do so. We are also not campaigning for anyone. If they cannot see, I am sure one of their supporters will alert them,” said Marindany.
The others are who have declares interest in the seat are Douglas Keton and Koin Lompo, who have a lot of ground to cover in making themselves known to the people.
Another factor that cannot be ignored by politicians in running for elective seats is finances.
It is quite expensive to run for a parliamentary seat in Kajiado East because of the urban centres and towns dotted in it.
All politicians are aware of that fact. The people of the constituency will also, first of all, check on the development records of the candidates.
Some of the issues that have been raised in this metropolitan constituency are the distribution of the national government constituency development funds in terms of bursaries.
The voters will gauge the candidates in terms of transparency. Demands in a metropolitan setting are different from rural constituencies like Kajiado West and Central.
After Maimai was appointed to serve on the national water board by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the people of Kajiado East, Kajiado South, Machakos and Makueni are now beginning to see the fruits of the Nol-Turesh Water Company.
There are now fewer complaints about Nol-Turesh water because of Maimai’s leadership in the sector.
While his competitor, Seneta, is basking in her successes in pushing for parliamentary Bills that have positively affected the people of the county, Maimai is equally at home with projects that he has personally initiated.
Seneta has also been at the forefront in fighting for workers’ rights in flower plantations in Kajiado East.
The majority of voters also come from flower farms in Isinya and Kitengela, where Maimai and Seneta have followers.