Legislator reclaims seat amidst adversity
If ever a victory can be termed as one against all odds it’s that of Grace Kipchoim who made history when she was elected the first Endorois to become Member of Parliament in the in 2013.
However, it’s her re-election in 2017 that has been termed miraculous given that the 55-year-old mother of two was elected on August 8 while lying on a hospital bed.
During the campaign period, her competitors did not make her situation any better where they took to various platforms to insult her using disparaging terms.
According to Kipchoim, competitors incited the voters against her for being a widow hence terming her a ‘bad omen’ to the community.
The Endorois community cradle land is occupied by Lake Bogoria and Mchongoi Forest of the Laikipia plains. They were forcefully evicted by the Government from their ancestral land from 1973 to pave way for the establishment of Lake Bogoria Game Reserve.
However, in February 4, 2010, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights ruled the eviction was a violation of their rights.
Kipchoim’s resolve has been to fight for the Endorois rights and the people of Baringo South as a whole and she remains steadfast regardless of her health and what the critics say. Her supporters credit her for an impressive development record and fight to end banditry.
“Despite my efforts to end banditry, a group of professionals from Mchongoi Location have blamed continuous banditry in the region on my widowhood status,” she says.
Kipchoim acknowledges that banditry attacks are a thorn in the flesh in Baringo and other areas and hence cannot be connected to her not having a husband.
“During campaigns my rival told voters that if they re-elect me the attacks would go on unabated as I was a bad omen in the community by virtue of my being a widow,” she recalls.
Kipchoim termed the propaganda alarming though it did not discourage her as she had her sights focused on what she wanted to achieve for the people of her constituency. Instead, the name calling and bad references gave her the urge, passion and zeal to eradicate the vice.
“Security remains my main agenda during this second term as member of the National Assembly. It will be my joy to see my people get back to their homes and children back to school without fear,” she says.
Kipchoim vied on a Jubilee Party ticket and clinched the seat not because of the voters’ pity but because of her development record. She garnered 10,598 votes against her closest competitor Charles Kamuren’s (Kanu) 10,355 votes. Other competitors were; Amos Olempaka (ODM) who got had 6,990, Cynthia Kiplchilat (Maendeleo Chap Chap) 426 while Bundotich Cheboiwo (Independent) got 60 votes.
“With vigorous campaigns by most of the candidates, I did not conduct even a single rally as I was bed-ridden and during party nominations and I did not cast my vote,” she says.
Kipchoim acknowledges that her political journey has not been easy especially with the illness slowing her down. She adds: “I only thank God because he makes things work for our good.”
She thanks the electorate for making her proud once more.
Kipchoim thanks Baringo South National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) committee for taking charge and running the constituency on her behalf.
She points that they initiated various development projects for the benefit of the electorate.
In 2016-2017 evaluation reports conducted by National Government Constituencies Development Fund Board (NG-CDF), Baringo South was ranked position 15 out of 290 constituencies in proper funds management.