Fight for Gusii land: Ruto moves to snatch Kisii from Raila’s grip ahead of 2027 polls

UDA Gusii

Some of the UDA leaders from Kisii when they met in Nairobi to strategise on how to popularise the party in the Gusii region.

Photo credit: Pool

The fight for the Kisii political soul has started with President William Ruto moving to snatch the region from the strong grip of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

President Ruto has started plans to popularise his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party in Kisii, in what residents see is a wider plan in preparation of the 2027 politics.

Dr Ruto is keen to secure the region that has predominantly supported Mr Odinga over the last 15 years.

UDA leaders from the region met in Nairobi on Tuesday to lay strategies to penetrate the Kisii political ground.

Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary nominee Joash Maangi, UDA Treasurer Japheth Nyakundi, newly appointed UDA Director for Mobilisation Charles Chweya, Bomachoge Chache MP Alpha Miruka, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Commodities Fund Duke Mainga among other leaders attended the meeting.

“It is true we met to plan on how to activate the ground. We have scheduled a UDA recruitment drive soon in the county. After Kisii, we will move to Nyamira,” said a source privy to the meeting.

“We want Kisii residents to support the government of the day because that is where they stand to benefit most.”

The group plans a massive grassroot registration drive in the region that will see more residents become members of the ruling UDA party.

The efforts by the group are in addition to those being put by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu.

Mr Machogu who is the senior most civil servant from the region has been putting effort to pull residents closer to government.

He has been crisscrossing the county with development goodies and cash as he seeks to woo residents to support the ruling party.

The Education CS accompanied by his ICT Counterpart Eliud Owalo are keen to see Gusii community back the government in their wider scheme to win over the larger Nyanza region.

But the drive to drum up support for the government may face several challenges, among them a near fanatical following for Mr Odinga by the residents.

Other challenges emanate from a lack of goodwill by the current regime to the community, given that they offered few top opportunities to the sons and daughters of Gusii.

Also, most of the county’s top elected leaders are pro-Odinga. This puts the UDA recruitment drive in a tight corner because these leaders are likely to de-campaign the recruitment drive by their political opponents.

Governor Simba Arati, Senator Richard Onyonka, Women Rep Dorice Donya, a number of lawmakers both at the national and county level are in the Azimio la Umoja- One Kenya Coalition.

Kisii County ODM Chairman Kerosi Ondieki says the region remains largely ODM and that residents are wise enough to make a decision on their political future.

“Those who want to conduct their recruitment drive are free to, but residents have the final say. Members of the Kisii community are wise people, they make decisions not based on emotions,” said Mr Kerosi.

He added that the Kenya Kwanza government had failed the community in very many ways and that makes it hard for its agents to penetrate the region politically.