Kipchumba Murkomen

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen

| File | Nation Media Group

Why CS Kipchumba Murkomen is not wanted in Bomet

Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok has picked a fight with Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, accusing him of interfering in the political affairs of the South Rift region.

Prof Barchok has also targeted Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei, accusing him of undermining his administration and six local MPs for allegedly not supporting development projects initiated by the county government.

The governor's outburst lifts the lid on political undercurrents in President William Ruto's Rift Valley backyard that threaten the unity of leaders and their supporters.

In an uncharacteristic attack, Prof Barchok claimed that CSs who engage in politics are derailing the national government's development agenda and posing a threat to Dr Ruto's re-election bid in the 2027 General Election. 

In what appeared to be an all-out attack, Prof Barchok also targeted an unnamed section of Bomet County Assembly members for allegedly colluding with politicians to undermine his government.

"I appeal to President Ruto to rein in his cabinet secretaries who are playing politics with an eye on the 2032 succession politics. They are creating political divisions that will cost him (Dr Ruto) in the 2027 re-election campaigns," urged Professor Barchok at Bomet Green Stadium during the unveiling of construction equipment purchased by the county government.

"Bomet County led the region in voting for the President and his deputy in the last General Election and as such we have a big share in the Kenya Kwanza government. But some leaders have behaved as if they own the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party," Professor Barchok told the meeting attended by Kericho Governor Erick Mutai and Emurrua Dikirr MPs Johana Ngeno, Victor Koech (Chepalungu) and Woman Representative Linet Chepkorir. 

Mr Murkomen toured Bomet County for two days (8-9 September), inspecting roads in Bomet East, Bomet Central and Chepalungu constituencies, where he was hosted by Senator Sigei at his residence for a meeting with other leaders that lasted late into the night (9 September).

It was his second tour of the county since being appointed to the post in the last general elections. Last week, the CS also toured neighbouring Kericho County for the third time this year.

"I would not accept being undermined in my own backyard by those who came (to hold meetings) without my knowledge. I hold the (political) keys to this region and I would not take the CS forays lying down," said Professor Barchok.

He added: "Our silence (as leaders from the Southern Rift) does not mean that we are foolish or weak. We have an agenda and we know where we are going".

When contacted by the Nation for comment on Thursday, Mr Murkomen said he was "in China on official business and had not kept abreast of the unfolding political scenario back home".

Both Mr Murkomen and Mr Sigei are partners in a Nairobi law firm and close allies of President Ruto.

Although he has not made it public, Mr Sigei is said to have ambitions for the governorship, while Prof Barchok is said to be interested in the Senate seat after his current second and final term ends. 

Prof Barchok alleged that some powerful individuals in the corridors of power linked to Senator Sigei had thrice scuttled a planned tour of Bomet County by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

"The Deputy President was supposed to tour development projects in Bomet County on Thursday and Friday (September 28-29). But some leaders interfered in the planning, leading to its cancellation. We were supposed to have a leaders' consultative meeting (with Mr Gachagua) on Wednesday but that was also cancelled. It is very sad," said Prof Barchok.

This is the third time in two months that Mr Gachagua has cancelled a tour of Bomet at the last minute for unexplained reasons.

Curiously, this week's planned tour came barely a week after Professor Barchok accompanied Mr Gachagua on a foreign trip to market tea and coffee that took the delegation to Cuba and Colombia.

Mr Sigei, in a rebuttal when contacted by the Nation for comment, said he did not have time to engage the governor in an imaginary political contest that would not be beneficial to the electorate, residents of Bomet County and the country. 

"I don't actually have a (political) war with him (Barchok). He is at war with himself. My plate is full with what the people of Bomet sent me to do in the Senate. And I am doing it. I will not be monitoring his government through the microphone any time soon. He wants me to do that, but I am not getting on board," Mr Sigei told the Nation in response to the governor's claims.

Mr Sigei said it was surprising that Prof Barchok was involved in 2027 and 2032 (succession) politics when other leaders were busy rolling out development projects for the benefit of the people.

"I wish he would concentrate on working for our people. Also, we really need to change the politics in Bomet....I want to be that person to show the way." Mr Sigei said.

Professor Barchok said he would embark on a tour of the 25 wards in the five constituencies - Bomet East, Bomet Central, Chepalungu, Sotik and Konoin - to commence construction of road projects after his administration purchased the equipment.

"As you can see, only Chepalungu MP Victor Koech, women's representative Linet Chepkorir (Toto) are here. I also have an apology from Sotik MP Francis Sigei. But the other MPs stayed away even though they were invited. It is clear that they are not with us (politically) and do not support the county government's development agenda," said Professor Barchok.

"It is unfortunate that some of our local MPs have been instructed not to attend this meeting (at Bomet Green Stadium) and threatened that should they turn up, they might as well forget about the harambee (fundraising) handouts they usually go to collect from certain offices," said Professor Barchok.

He said: "The unveiling of these gadgets would not benefit me but the people of Bomet County. For the MPs and other leaders to skip it (the function) says a lot. As voters and residents of this county, you now know who is with us and who is against us.

MPs from the region who did not attend the meeting are - Senator Hillary Sigei, Mr Richard Yegon (Bomet East), Mr Brighton Yegon (Konoin), Mr Richard Kilel (Bomet Central) and nominated Senator Joyce Korir.

"Some of the MCAs have pitched tents in Nairobi as if they have been given offices there. I can assure you that I will be visiting each of the counties to roll out development projects and engage the people directly on their issues..." Professor Barchok said.

Professor Barchok said: "The MCA nominees in Bomet County will have to tell us whether they were nominated by the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party or by some individuals to whom they owe allegiance.

Kericho Governor Erick Mutai and Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno, who attended the meeting, appeared to take a cue from Barchok, saying the southern leaders deserved respect for rallying the people to vote for President Ruto in the last general election.

Dr Mutai said the people will rally behind President Ruto but will not side with those who want to undermine their leaders in their own backyard.

"What should be clear is that we have the political muscle in our numbers (voters) and all we are asking for is respect for our leaders," Dr Mutai said.

Mr Ngeno said there were politicians from outside the region who were working round the clock to topple leaders from Bomet, Kericho, Nakuru and Narok to advance a sectarian agenda.

"We want to make it clear that as a region (South Rift) we will remain united and scatter all those who want to divide us for selfish political gains. We will not agree to be rubber stamps for other leaders. We deserve as many development projects as other regions in the country," said Mr Ngeno.