The Rise of a Community Leader: Victor Tum’s Dedication to Making a Difference

My name is Victor Tum from Kapsaos ward in Kericho County. I’m a youth leader and a public-spirited citizen who is passionate about good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability in public service. I basically champion for the implementation and the enforcement of Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya.

I am glad to have taken part in youth participation in the governance program facilitated by Siasa Place in Kericho County. I joined Siasa Place in 2020 after I was introduced tothe organization and invited by a friend and through the various training programs by Siasa Place, including the one-year Imara Africa Fellowship training program on leadership and policy making in partnership with Siasa Place. My thoughts and knowledge on governance have been greatly shaped and my skills in leadership honed. I joined Siasa Place when I did not know how to articulate issues to the government. The modus operandi among us young people whenever we wanted to articulate our issue to leaders, was mainly through Facebook, wherewe criticized leaders and by using a not so friendly tone. There were instances where we could interrupt a social gathering such as harambees or a funeral to address leaders who were in attendance. The advantage of taking such an approach was that we could get the leaders’ attention and they could respond verbally to our satisfaction, but the main disadvantage was that the issue in contention would not be sufficiently addressed or implemented and would remain to be political statements.

Through the training I got from Siasa Place, I can now confidently address issues facing my community through modern approaches that can get the issues acted upon. I am now better equipped to articulate issues facing my community through demand letters, petitions to the County Assembly and moving the courts, as well as having village dialogues popularly known as Barazas and engaging the leaders directly. I am able to succinctly exercise my sovereign power as enshrined under Article 1 of the Constitution of Kenya.

There was this road for instance, Tendwet-Kapsilangwa-Ainapsosiot road that was funded by the County Government of Kericho cutting through two villages in my ward. The road was shoddily done and when we traced through the budget, we found out that it had been allocated approximately 10 million Kenya shillings in the Financial Year 2019/2020, yet poor work had been done. We tried raising the issue on social media but it did not catch the attention of the County Government of Kericho. We then convened a Village Baraza and wrote a Petition to the County Assembly of Kericho, a demand letter to the office of the County Executive Member for Public Works and Transport and copied the same to the Governor and Senator for the County Government of Kericho. We got feedback and through some of our initiatives which included doing investigations and holding those who were responsible for the pilferage of public resources accountable, the road was done to the required standard.

Through the Civic Education that we did across the entire county, we believe that the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) for the 3rd dispensation of the county government of Kericho, is people-centered as people were able to present memorandums on their priorities. In the past, we did not know that we wielded immense power to the extent that we could determine the projects to be done by the county government in our wards, and thought that development is done only at the behest of our elected leaders. We planned ourselves before the public participation by the County Government of Kericho for the CIDP III, and on the d-day we were just proposing the projects that we had mooted upon and agreed that the county government should allocate funds in its five-year tenure.

Through the Civic Education, training programs, exposure and support by Siasa Place, I was also able to file a case at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Kericho challenging the process used to recruit and appoint the Chief officers for the County Government of Kericho. The case is currently active in Court and as such I cannot delve into its merits. In hindsight, my petition sought to streamline the recruitment process that seemed to disregard Article 10 of the constitution on openness, transparency and accountability in the recruitment process as well as entrench the jurisprudence of the two-third gender rule in all the appointments in our county government. The judgment is set to be delivered on the 25th of May 2023.

Through these involvements, I also got a rare opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with H.E Maarten Brouwer, the Netherlands Ambassador to Kenya during the recently concluded People Dialogue Festival in Nairobi. It was Nerima Wako the ED at Siasa Place moderating the interview for us and for a moment, I felt like a small fish in a very big pond, coming from a small village in Kericho County to sharing a podium with H.E the Ambassador of Netherlands to Kenya, Maarten Brouwer was mind-boggling.

It’s part of my ambitions to run for a political seat in the near future, probably an oversight position such as the Member of County Assembly or Senator.

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