The notable lack of developmental action plans in the towns of Kitengela, Ongata Rongai, Ngong’, Kiserian and Isinya could affect the governor’s performance.

Failure to deal with the sewerage systems and collection of garbage has irked the business community even as they accuse the governor of ignoring their plight.

“These towns have rapidly grown without a commensurate attention to infrastructure. Traffic jams, flooding and heaps of garbage portray a leadership that has focus elsewhere,” says John Kinyua, a businessman in Kitengela.

LAND MESS

The county government also rubbed investor communities the wrong way when they put brakes on the sale of land in the county. 

"The land mess in Kajiado has a political angle that can’t favour the governor,” says Simon Ole Kipury, a land merchant.

To counter Dr Nkedianye’s sour relationship with traders, Mr Lenku has been capitalising on his accommodating nature and adopted the slogan that he is “a safe pair of hands”.

“It is about balancing the interests of investors and protecting the local communities. All this can be done through inclusivity as both groups are important to each other,” Mr Lenku told the Saturday Nation this week.

The Kitengela market is a particularly emotive issue that will have a huge bearing on voting patterns in the town, which carries the bulk of votes in Kajiado East.

Towards the end of 2015, Maasais engaged local traders in a fierce battle over ownership of the market. Residents saw the governor’s hand in the skirmishes, a thing he strenuously denies. Kitengela is about the only urban centre in Kajiado without a market built by the county government.

POLITICAL COST

Mr Lenku seizes on such grievances to paint Dr Nkedianye as being hostile to non-Maasais and by extension investment.

However, the governor has awakened to the reality of a possible political cost and has embarked on an aggressive campaign to issue new tamper-proof allotment letters, effectively lifting the ban on land sales.

James Sapuro, an environmental expert and Kajiado opinion leader, however, says the missing link has been lack of a concrete partnership between the county and national governments.

“The governor worked from the minority side of the county assembly. He had only two MCAs out of 25. This was not a conducive performance environment,” says Dr Sapuro.

He adds that the satellite towns are part of the Nairobi metropolis and the anticipated projects would require massive resources from the national government.

“Drainage, water provision and road infrastructure would cost billions of shillings. Support from the national government would be the key to unlock tangible development in these towns,” opines Dr Sapuro

The governor takes every opportunity to tell voters how he would have achieved more had he been surrounded by friendlier (ODM) MCAs.

He has been asking the electorate to "give" him at least 15 ODM ward reps so that he can finish his development agenda in his second and final term.

NO ILLUSIONS

Mr Lenku has no illusions that the battle ahead is an easy one; on being declared winner in the Jubilee nominations at Maasai Technical Training Institute in Kajiado town, he urged his opponents to back him as they are faced with "a formidable opponent".

For now, Mr Lenku appears to have practically sewn up the Jubilee-supporting communities, mostly Kikuyus, who dominate Kajiado North. The constituency had 101,275 voters, representing a whopping 33 per cent of all the county’s registered voters.

Kajiado East, where Dr Nkedianye comes from, had 71,482 voters. Combined, the NASA-supporting communities of Kisii, Luhya, Kamba and Luo outnumber Kikuyus.

However, Dr Nkedianye will have to explain the disillusionment the communities suffered after the ODM primaries as they wanted to elect one of their own as MCA. They accuse the governor of locking their choices out in favour of his preferred line-up.

Mr Lenku is expected to reap from his Kajiado South home area while Kajiado West, which borders Narok, could favour Dr Nkedianye as the county’s two ODM ward reps come from this area.

The only consolation for Mr Lenku is Kiserian, which is largely inhabited by Jubilee supporters.

Kajiado Central, represented by ODM's Kachori Memusi, is another battleground. The ODM influence is quite big, but Mr Lenku is hoping his running mate, who comes from there, will shore up support.

While the two candidates appear to be evenly poised to capture Maasai votes, the deciding votes will have to come from the settler non-Maasais.

Thus, whoever comes up with policies that are more attractive to them is likely to carry the day.

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