Rongai constituency stands out not only in the cosmopolitan Nakuru County but also in the country at large.
The agriculturally-rich constituency—it was created in 1988 after it was hived off from the then Nakuru North constituency, now Subukia—is home to three Presidents.
Rongai was home to two past Presidents, Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi.
As President Kenyatta prepares to exit the stage after the August 9 elections, there are indications he may settle at their family farm in Rongai constituency.
Mzee Kenyatta spent many of his sunset years in Nakuru and when he was not meeting delegations at Nakuru State House, he would spend nights at the expansive Gicheha Farm, a kilometre off the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
Gicheha Farm has undergone massive transformation, with the First Family heavily investing in the farm as evidenced by the many farming activities that increased in the last term of President Kenyatta.
Imported beef breeds
The farm is a spectacle, hosting many imported beef breeds, a majority of them from South Africa and Uganda, including the famous Ankole from Uganda and Brangus, Charolais, Hereford and Brahman.
It also has local breeds like the Borans and Sahiwals.
The 4,000-acre-plus farm has also invested heavily in avocado growing with thousands of acres planted with the cash crop.
President Kenyatta is known to visit the farm regularly and spends his nights at the farm whenever he is in Nakuru.
His predecessor Moi, who died early 2020, owned the expansive Kabarak Farm that neighbours Gicheha Farm, where he built his retirement home and left behind multibillion-shilling education legacy projects: Moi Kabarak Primary School, Moi High School Kabarak and Kabarak University.
Mr Raymond Kipruto Moi, 62, who is regarded as the family leader, is popular with Rongai residents and he remains the man to beat during the August 9 polls, thanks to his development record.
Raymond and his younger brother Gideon are the custodians of the family’s political interests.
Both of them are in the 2022 electoral contests, with Raymond seeking to retain the Rongai seat for a third term while Gideon is seeking to clinch the Baringo Senate seat for a third term.
If you randomly ask ordinary Rongai residents in the five wards that make the constituency who could be their next MP, Raymond’s name features prominently across all age groups and ethnic communities.
Visoi ward has the highest number of registered voters at 20,555, followed by Mosop (19,670), Menengai West (19,389), Soin (14,523) and Solai (10,488).
The constituency has 84,625 registered voters.
Many political observers in the region say not even the wave of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) led by Deputy President William Ruto will threaten Raymond’s re-election bid owing to his development record.
“Raymond is still very popular. He’s set to retain the seat because of his impressive development record. The divisions in the UDA camp following bungled primaries give him an added advantage as UDA supporters, who were unhappy with the outcome of the primaries where Raymond Komen lost to Paul Chebor will vote for Raymond,” Mr Peter Kipsang, a resident of Visoi said.
The Jubilee candidate Andrew Kibet Komen stepped down in favour of Raymond.
The two parties are in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.
Former Solai ward representative Paul ‘Mamba’ Chebor of UDA is seen as Raymond’s closest challenger.
Mr Chebor is confident that he’ll end the Moi family dominance in the region’s politics.
“Rongai race will not be determined by roadside popularity but it will be decided at the ballot box and I’m confident of winning the seat as Rongai residents are yearning for a new dawn under UDA,” Mr Chebor said moments after winning in the party primaries.
Raymond is a shrewd politician with deep pockets but behind the scene, his wife Susan is seen as the key pillar to his re-election as she has vigorously been campaigning for her husband at the wards.
Raymond’s impact has been felt in all the five wards as the National Government Constituency Development Funds (NG-CDF) seem to have been prudently used to transform the lives of residents.
Targeting the youth
The MP has launched empowerment programmes targeting the youth and has sponsored hundreds of students through secondary and university education.
Raymond has won the hearts of poor families as the NG-CDF committee has ensured that the needy get full sponsorships to enable them to realise their education dreams.
Many residents laud Raymond for prioritising education matters in a bid to fight poverty and empower the youth.
“I don’t like Kanu as a party because it failed this country. However, as a resident of Rongai, I will vote for Raymond regardless of his party.
“He is one leader whose development activities are focused on building the capacity of the youth to have a sustainable income. He has shown us how to fish and deserves a third term,” said Mr Patrick Njue, a boda boda rider in Soin ward.
Ms Grace Korir from Mosop ward said: “I’m a UDA supporter. I know where my presidential vote will go to but for MP, I’ll not make a mistake.
“Raymond is still my preferred candidate. Raymond has acknowledged the importance of the youth since he was elected in 2013. He has focused on projects that empower the youth as groups or individuals.”
But despite the huge support, some residents say the constituency suffers from dilapidated feeder roads and lack of clean water, among other challenges.
TOMORROW: Kisumu East, where Shakeel Shabbir, running as an independent candidate, is seeking a fourth term against an ODM wave.