Bundotich Zedekiah Kiprop (Buzeki) became known to many Kenyans during the electioneering period in 2017 when he gave Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago a run for his money.
The entrepreneur who made billions in the dairy business ran a well-oiled campaign, and posed a threat to Mandago even as an Independent candidate after losing out on the Jubilee ticket.
Since the polls, however, Buzeki has largely kept a low political profile other than announcing his move from Jubilee to the Isaac Rutto-led Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) in May 2019.
Flying under the radar, Buzeki has been quietly building up grassroots networks through various community-based initiatives in Uasin Gishu.
Through his Buzeki Foundation, he has rolled out several programs including empowerment initiatives for farmers and Covid-19 sensitisation campaigns.
On Monday, June 29, for instance, Buzeki rolled out a program known as ‘Mlo Mashinani’ which he hopes to expand to three counties beyond Uasin Gishu within next twelve months.
“We seek to provide seeds of Indigenous crops like pumpkins, arrow roots, sweet potatoes among others and offer field extension service to ensure proper seed utilisation and offer market support for surplus produce,” Buzeki wrote.
Mlo Mashinani is an all-inclusive financial empowerment program targeting farmers; in which they are grouped into clusters, provided with seeds, expert advice from agronomists as well as logistical and sales support.
The program also involves recruitment of trainer farmers who will be taught on various agricultural techniques which they pass on to other farmers in the program, with the progress on the farms monitored at every step.
“Farmers shall be organised into cells, each of which shall have an agronomist attached to it. The cell shall be led by a team leader who shall be the contact person for the group with the larger project team.
“Aggregation will ensure that although the farms are small in scale, the produce can be collected from many individual farms in order to enjoy economies of scale for ease of marketing and establishing a route to market,” a release from the Buzeki Foundation read in part.
Buzeki has also made little secret of his intention to take another stab at the Uasin Gishu gubernatorial race in 2022.
When he left Jubilee for CCM in 2019, Buzeki told over 5,000 delegates who gathered at his Ainabkoi home that he had been frustrated by allies of Deputy President William Ruto in the Jubilee Party.
He claimed that leaders in Jubilee including Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Soy MP Caleb Kositany had vowed that he would not get the Jubilee ticket even if he registered a landslide victory in the nominations.
“After wide consultations, we have decided to move to CCM and from today there is no reverse gear. We will move to make CCM the most popular and grassroots-based party in Kenya.
“They have told me that even if I get I million votes in the Jubilee nominations they will not allow the party to give me its ticket in Uasin Gishu,” he asserted at the time.
A Liverpool fan, Buzeki is also on the record accusing leaders in Jubilee of hurting farmers in the North Rift by engaging in shady maize importation deals.