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Special Post-Election Issue

Issue Number 36 • April 2013

Beth Muchiri

The only woman elected in Laikipia County …By Paul Mwaniki

B

eth Waithira Muchiri is the only woman in Laikipia County who won in the hotly contested election to secure a place in the new county assembly. Muchiri, 30, trounced former Laikipia County Council Chairman Joseph Karonji twice after he sought an Agano party certificate after losing to her in the TNA nominations. She will now represent Tigithi Ward in the County assembly, a seat that has been held by men over the last 30 years.

Decamping

“Most of my male competitors refused to give up after I trounced them during the party primaries. Majority decamped to other parties so that they could be in the ballot box but I was ready for a re-run,” says an elated Muchiri after she emerged the winner. The youthful winner attributes her victory to the willingness of the electorate to embrace change in leadership in the region. She notes that the

region has lagged behind in development due to bad leadership. Muchiri notes that despite having received immense resources, only a handful of projects that directly benefit the residents have been implemented in the County. “Most educated youths have been left to languish in unending poverty despite the fact that the government introduced the youth fund,” she observes. She says her immediate duty is to work with the Government to channel more funds to the grassroots where cottage industries have shown potential. “Tigithi Ward in Laikipia Central District is known for its productivity in crop production and what the youths need here is capital to own greenhouses so that as groups they can reap highly from the resources,” she explains. Muchiri who was born and brought up in the County maintains that she is better placed to articulate the aspirations of the local people. At the same time she notes that most women lost in the election due to lack of resources and other respon-

sibilities that are vested in them at family level. “Young mothers like me have the responsibility of bringing up children at home as well as other chores that require women to submit to their husbands,” she explains.

Approval

On resources, Waithira notes that in a home most property still belongs to the man and it is hard to use the same resources in your campaigns without seeking his approval and this is why majority of women are hardly able to sell their agenda. However, she thinks women should be more persistent in politics if they want to reach the level of their male competitors. Her plea to The National Alliance (TNA) party which garnered eleven seats in the county and will have a vacancy for eight nominations is to award at least five or six women who tirelessly tried but failed on other grounds. Councillor Jane Wanjugu who contested on a TNA ticket in Segera Ward and came second blamed it on retrogressive culture among some com-

munities which up to now have not embraced women leadership. “Though I campaigned tirelessly, Beth Muchiris race was crowded by men but she I found it hard to made it through. Picture: Paul Mwaniki penetrate the regions where some commusaw almost every woman going for nities embraced their men other than women coming from it instead of opting for the seat with outside in Laikipia North Constitu- less scope in campaigns but all inclusive Member of Parliament. ency,” she notes. According to Helen Kurutu who Wanjugu garnered over 1,200 votes while the winner scooped over lost during the nominations for the women’s seat, most women fear com1,600. Having been elected in the previ- peting with men and this explains ous councils for two terms in her for- why they all decided to go for the mer ward before they were joined to seat because they were assured of fair form a bigger ward with diverse cul- play. However, the number of women tures, Wanjugu says there is need for more civic education so that com- who offered themselves for the elecmunities can accept to give women a tive positions especially in the County Representative was higher than previchance in leadership. Though women are shying away ous years and this can be termed as from major political seats, the cre- something positive coming from the ation of the Women’s Representative affirmative action. seat has acted as an eye opener that

Women lose and gain seats in Naivasha’s political strongholds

…By Steve Mucheru

W

omen vying for the senator’s seat in the Nakuru County in the recently concluded General Election found the terrain rough as they were shoved aside by male counterparts despite putting up a spirited campaign. Those aspiring for political seats in the Naivasha Constituency gave the Governor’s and parliamentary seat a wide berth preferring to run for the senator position. Among them was former legislator Jayne Kihara who ended up being among those vanquished for going against the grain. The former Member of Parliament and one time assistant minister failed to overcome the Jubilee wave, having contested on a Narc-Kenya ticket. Despite being a crowd puller during her hey days in the National assembly, Kihara found a different ball game when vying for a more senior position and had 11 constituencies to contend with.

Prospects

“I was banking on the electorate from Naivasha and Gilgil to shore up the numbers but things did not work my way. The Jubilee euphoria was at its crescendo,” notes former legislator. Blessed with a personal clout, Kihara was largely expected to give her competitors a run for their money regardless of the party affiliation but her calculations this time round failed to win her substantial votes. Distraught by the loss, Kihara decided to quit politics and ply her trade on personal business. “I have learnt my lesson in politics. I had my good and bad times in the political arena but I am now quitting elective posts,” she says. Kihara alluded to have confidently expected to do well in the senatorial contest, but

could not withstand the TNA euphoria in the county. “It is distressing that the party euphoria is still a major factor in politics despite the new political order,” notes Kihara. She says: “I am looking forward to a time when the electorate will evaluate a candidate’s ability to deliver instead of voting along party lines.” Her former constituents gave her a paltry 16,287 votes compared to the eventual winner, James Kiarie Mungai who garnered 56,778 votes to walk away with the prized trophy. The huge margin was, perhaps, what led to Kihara to retire from politics having turned down calls by the electorate to vie for the MP’s seat which she could have easily clinched.

Competition

Her fellow competitor Josepha Wambui Mambo of Grand National Union (GNU) also fared dismally securing 2,303 votes only. She could not hold out the heat in a campaign that had men calling the shots. But, perhaps, on a lighter side, women candidates in the race for the County Representative seat both in Naivasha and Gilgil constituencies had the last laugh with Eunice Wambui Muriithi trouncing her rivals to win the Viwandani ward in Naivasha Constituency. Going by the acronym, Mama Soko she enjoyed near fanatical following and appealed to almost all the electorate including the youth, perhaps due to the nature of her work as market vendor. She rode to victory on the little known Mazingira Green Party garnering 6,213 votes to stem off the URP and TNA wave. She was initially in TNA but failed to secure the party ticket and quickly jumped ship to the smaller party believing that she had been rigged out. The fanatical support

Former Naivasha MP and NARC-Kenya senatorial aspirant for Nakuru County Mrs. Jayne Kihara. She lost her bid to TNA’s James Kiarie Mungai. Picture: Steve Mucheru became a boon as she secured the seat at the end. “I don’t believe the TNA nominations were free and fair forcing me to seek refuge elsewhere, luckily, the results have vindicated my decision,” said the affable Mama Soko.

Winners

However, she had to endure tense moments before upstaging her main rival from URP with slightly more than 100 votes. In Gilgil, women were laughing all the way to the Country assembly as three of them were elected on a TNA ticket. Leading the pack was the Gilgil Ward County Representative elect Jane Ngugi who

polled 6,791 while her closest challenger trailing behind her with more than 3,000 votes. Others who made women proud included Monicah Gitau who won the Morendat civic seat and Jane Simita who won the Eburru/Baruk seat in the newly created Gilgil Constituency. Despite vying on a popular party, the three had to overcome the rigours of party nominations, in the process flooring seasoned political heavyweights to have a smooth ride to the assembly. “We had to overcome stereotypes and did a lot of mobilisation during our campaigns, luckily the majority of voters supported our bid,” notes Ngugi.

Kenyan Woman Issue 36  

Kenyan Woman - Advocating for the Rights of women The Kenyan Woman is a monthly publication of AWCFS

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