Konoin Constituency: Vote for change is clarion call in multi-ethnic area

Konoin 2002 election results

Sammy Koech (Kanu) 9,503
Raphael Kitur (SDP) 8,131
Peter Bett (Narc) 4,567
Rono Cheruiyot (Ford-P) 1,345
Mr Ngeny

Konoin residents, just like those in neighbouring constituencies in Kipsigis region are gearing up for change.

The constituents, most of them labourers in tea farms, say they had for long been short-changed by Kanu. However, most are singing the ODM Kenya song.

MP Sammy Koech, who won the seat in 2002 on a Kanu ticket, is set for a repeat fight with former legislator Raphael Kitur.

Also in the race is Mrs Borneice Soi, the widow of farmer Kimetet Soi. She is so far the only woman aspirant.

Those in race

Others include former assistant minister Joshua Terer, Mr Ronald Ngeny, Prof Wilson Toweett, Mr Andrew Rono, Mr Vincent Bett, Mr David Koskei, Mr Andrew Langat, Mr Charles Langat, Dr Julius Kones and Mr Samson Menjo Mosonik.

Konoin is a multi-ethnic constituency, with sizeable populations from Western and Nyanza provinces. The dominant community is however the Kipsigis.

Almost three quarters of land in Konoin is planted with tea. The big farms are owned by multinational firms while small-scale growers are the locals.

The majority of those from neighbouring provinces are mainly casual labourers in the tea farms.

Mrs Soi, a retired assistant primary schools inspector, could pull a surprise since she is the only woman in the race.

Her husband was a renowned figure in the area. Mrs Soi could therefore tap into her husband’s goodwill and is certainly no-pushover.

If Konoin people’s resolve to vote for change stands, then Mrs Soi could tilt the scales.

Mr Koech won the seat on a Kanu ticket after defeating Mr Kitur at the party’s nomination stage.

Mr Kitur then defected and vied on a Social Democratic Party ticket, coming second to Mr Koech.

After one term

Except for Mr Nathaniel Chebelyon who served two terms, voters have a habit of sending home an MP only after one term.

Mr Koech will have broken the jinx if he wins a second term.

Mr Chebelyon was returned in 1992 on sympathy votes after he lost the seat in 1989 when he and Cabinet minister John Koech were expelled from the high-handed Kanu of the time.

Supporters give Mr Koech credit for proper use of CDF which, they say, has gone a long way in improving road network in the area. His CDF initiative has seen the establishment and improvement of secondary and primary schools, health centres and tea buying facilities.

The CDF money has been fairly disbursed especially among needy students. The MP has also been holding harambees to raise funds for students going for higher education.

Award tenders

The only criticism, like elsewhere in the country, is that he selected only his friends to the CDF management committee.

He is further accused of influencing the award of tenders for the rural road construction in the constituency through single sourcing.

But the MP denies the allegations, including that of interfering with the administration officials who question how the CDF tenders were awarded.

Mr Koech often tables documents to show that the CDF kitty is well managed.

Mr Kitur, is a large-scale tea farmer. Close to 2,000 tea pickers work for him.

His nickname is chibesa, meaning money, due to the immense financial resources he puts in his campaigns.

He is expected to have established where he went wrong in 2002 to lose to Mr Koech. His critics say he should tone down his language during campaigns to endear himself to the people.

Heavy spending

The politician who is known to spare no efforts and resources to win. Mr Kitur defeated Mr Chebelyon in the 1997 elections. His tenure is most remembered for numerous harambees, to which he invited prominent personalities.

He was instrumental in the construction of Koiwa sub-district hospital .

He is also remembered for the harambees he organised for health centres, schools, churches and water projects at a time when there was no CDF.

Through the same harambees, he raised funds for students seeking university education.

Mr Ngeny is a close ally of Mr Raila Odinga. The ODM Kenya presidential aspirant commands some influence among the non-Kipsigis communities.

Mr Andrew Langat, who is the chairman of Ndege Chai Sacco Ltd, is also in the race.

He was for many years a manager with James Finlay Company and this might give mileage among tea pickers. He should know the voting patterns in tea estates.

He is best known for properly managing the savings and credit cooperative society, which has retained position one in its category in the country for five years in a row.

Workers in the tea farms could give him support as he has assisted a lot in terms of education of their children using his position in the Sacco.

He is also known for compassion and this endears him to voters.

Sufficient influence

Mr Charles Langat is eyeing the Narc Kenya ticket although the flower party is yet to gain sufficient influence in the constituency.

Mr Bett is a teacher at Kericho Day Secondary School while Dr Kones is a university lecturer.

Mr Mosonik is an engineer and a director of Mogogosiek Tea Factory. He has the resources to enable him mount a formidable campaign and give his opponents a stiff competition.

Being an engineer, he has already embarked on a plan to start a small hydroelectric project from Kipsonoi river.

Influential father

This, he says, would power the factory, and thus reduce electricity costs.

The power project, he says, could be expanded in future to supply electricity to the surrounding areas.

He has the support of his influential father, Mr William Mosonik, who used to work for retired President Moi.

It remains to be seen who among the aspirants, most of who are wealthy, will play their cards well and win the Konoin seat.

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