The battle for the Tachoni community’s vote in Bungoma County has intensified, with some of its members now throwing their weight behind the re-election of Governor Wycliffe Wangamati.
This comes barely a month after another group announced its support for former governor and outgoing Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka as their preferred candidate.
Governor Wangamati’s re-election campaign has received a major boost after the Tachoni community in Bungoma East and ODM members in the county announced their support for him.
About a month ago, another Tachoni group in Webuye East constituency, led by Mr Lichuma Sitati, announced their support for Mr Lusaka’s bid to recapture the top county seat.
Mr Wangamati is fighting to retain the seat in a battle featuring his main opponent, Mr Lusaka, who is also putting up a spirited fight to recapture the seat he lost in 2017.
The latest move by the Tachoni community in Bungoma East to support Mr Wangamati's re-election was backed by Bungoma ODM party members, led by county chairman Ali Balala Machani Mutoka.
Mr Balala, the Maraka ward MCA in Webuye East, said ODM will vigorously campaign for Mr Wangamati's re-election after he picked an ODM party member as his running mate.
The Tachoni community’s national chairman, Mr Wasilwa Wekesa, under the umbrella of the Tachoni Cultural Society (Tacuso), led his team to Mr Wangamati's camp, saying he had shown them love by picking their own son, Mr Evans Murumba, as his running mate.
Mr Murumba is a banker by profession and hails from the Bangachi clan. He had been knocked out of ODM primaries in his quest for the Webuye East parliamentary seat.
"Wangamati had previously picked Mr Charles Ngome from the community as his deputy and this time, he has again settled on Mr Murumba, who is also our son. This a big honour to us'' said Mr Wekesa.
The Tacuso team that expressed its support for Mr Lusaka last month said the community had not benefited from Mr Wangamati's administration, even though he had picked one of their own, Prof Ngome, as his deputy in the current county government.
Tacuso chairperson Patrick Sitati Lichuma said it was the main reason the community took the decision to back Mr Lusaka.
“We really supported the current regime in the last General Election but we have never seen meaningful development apart from some individuals who have benefited,” he noted.
He said Mr Lusaka has assured the Tachoni that the county secretary’s position, two CECs, several chief officers, the county liaison officer, several directors, the County Public Service Board chairmanship and others will go to the community.
Addressing journalists in Webuye town on Thursday, Mr Wekesa said the decision to back Mr Wangamati considered the need to have the community as part of his administration, and that he had also done much for them.
"We have benefited a lot in terms of development in the constituency for the last five years and we are set to get more if he is reelected with our son Mr Murumba,” said the chairman.
He said Mr Wangamati had consulted the community, which handed him Mr Murumba after Mr Ngome opted to vie for the Senate seat.
“This shows that he has a lot of respect for the Tachoni community,” he stated.
He urged the Tachoni to support Mr Wangamati's bid, saying they stand to get more development projects and slots in the county government.
The Tacuso women league leaders, headed by Ms Gladys Chetekei, applauded Mr Wangamati for nominating their son as his running mate.
Ms Chetekei promised that Tachoni women would walk from village to village to drum up support for the governor’s re-election.
“As Tachoni women, we are going to mount vigorous campaigns to ensure that Mr Wangamati is re-elected,'' Ms Chetekei said.