Special Post-Election Issue
Issue Number 36 • April 2013
Men dominate positions in Taita Taveta County
…By Renson Mnyamwezi
ale politicians clinched most seats in the just concluded General Election and sustained their dominance in politics in Taita-Taveta County. Out of the several political seats created under the devolved system of government, only two female politicians were elected. The women election losers interviewed blamed their dismal performance in the just concluded election on cultural bias against women, lack of funding by their political parties, intimidation by male politicians and lack of community support. They also cited flawed party nominations and massive rigging as some of the reasons hindering their chances to ascend to power. Taveta Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) parliamentary loser Ruth Lelewu said that outdated, retrogressive and counterproductive cultural beliefs worked against women seeking elective positions in the community. “A number of women were denied nominations by their parties. Even those who won the nominations were denied funding and did not get support from their parties and their communities,” she claimed.
“Our communities are not ready for women’s leadership. Some male politicians ganged up to ensure that female politicians especially those perceived to be popular are locked out of the race,” said Lelewu who came a distant fifth in the competitive race. Gender, Children and Social Services Development Minister Naomi Shaban is the only woman to have won a legislative seat. Shaban who was defending the Taveta parliamentary seat is the first woman Minister from the coastal region. Another female politician, Joyce Wanjala Lay was elected the new County Women Representative. This seat, however, was reserved for women under the new Constitution. Strong women who lost included former Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) deputy Governor Jacinta Mwatela of Wiper Democratic Party. Immediate former CEO of Kenya Oil Refineries John Mtuta Mrutu of ODM won the hotly contested race.
Mwatela, the wife to outgoing Mwatate MP and Education Assistant Minister Calist Mwatela has vowed to challenge the results in court, claiming she was rigged out. “I have been robbed of victory. This is daylight robbery,” she claimed after the final results were announced. The two candidates had battled it out at the flawed Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nominations where Mrutu was declared the winner.
"Corruption is also another challenge facing woman as some male politicians bought their way in. People are voting for money without considering the qualities of leadership," she added bitterly. In an interview, Lelewu said women could equally serve this nation like men do but some cultural practices were hindering their efforts to ascend to power. "It is now time communities shun ancient cultural values to give equal education opportunities to both boys and girls," she said. While encouraging more women to vie for political positions in future, Lelewu challenged them to start campaigning early enough. "Lack of empowerment has discouraged a number of women to fight for leadership positions with men. But we are encouraging them that politics is not a preserve of men," said another election loser Edita Damian Milimito. She blamed her woes on IEBC for failing to clear her. "I had lost my identity card and IEBC officials had promised to clear me with passport but later reneged. I was later locked out of the Mata Ward election in Taveta constituency for lack of ID," she said. "I had paid the requisite Ksh 2,500 for the seat but my political rivals colluded with unscrupulous IEBC officials to lock me out of the race of which I should have won," claimed Milimito, a mother of two. She blamed the poor performance on corruption and discrimination against women. "My chances of
Kenyans turned out in large numbers to vote in a new government but did not elect enough women to meet the constitutional requirement. Picture: Renson Myamwezi winning the seat were frustrated by IEBC," she added. Milimito at the same time said she was appalled by this traditional belief that a woman should not aspire to positions of leadership. The politicians spoke as women failed to use their numerical to vote in leaders of their own to address years of marginalization.
The National Gender and Equality Commission had earlier warned of a constitutional crisis if the gender rule is not achieved. But this was however overruled by the Supreme Court ruling which suspended the realization of the principle to 2013. Speaking in Wundanyi town, during a civic education forum with
"Corruption is also another challenge facing woman as some male politicians bought their way in. People are voting for money without considering the qualities of leadership." — Jacinta Mwatela
target groups to educate them on the various elective positions in the just concluded elections, the Commission’s Communications Officer Daniel Waitere said the implementation of the gender rule was vital and should not be ignored during the elections. He said despite challenges to the commission was facing in the implementation of the gender rule; it has embarked on forums to enhance public awareness among the marginalized communities.
Two women leaders in the region Gertrude Mwakio and Evelyne Wabosha told the commission that it would be difficult to attain the gender rule because women were still reluctant to vie for political positions created by the new constitution. "It will be difficult to attain the gender rule because women do not want to compete with men. Women especially in rural areas should be sensitized to come out and vie for the various political positions that had always been dominated by men," said Mwakio.
The leaders noted that majority of women were not willing to seek for leadership positions because of the huge financial requirement and grueling nature of campaigns. "Women need to be empowered economically to be able to effectively participate in the electoral process," added Wabosha. At the same time Waitere hit out at former MPs accusing them of being gender insensitive by failing to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill on the two thirds gender rule that would unlock the crisis. He said the Bill still pending in parliament would have provided a mechanism for achieving the principle that more than two-thirds of the members of the National assembly and Senate shall be of the same gender. "The commission would like to see more women participate in the electoral process and that is why it is creating public awareness to boost voter listing and advising Kenyans on the need to support politicians with good policies that will benefit them," said the communications officer.
Kilifi residents want a more equal representation …By Robert Nyagah
he huge imbalance which appears to have been created by the election of people from a single ethnic and religious background in various positions in the Kilifi County must be redressed through sober nominations at all levels, a cross section of commentators have suggested. “We are worried about the results of the general election in the Kilifi County in majority of the electoral areas where the predominant local and Christian Giriama community dominated the seats right from the gubernatorial to ward positions,” noted Morris Mangi who lost the Gongoni Ward on a United Democratic Front (UDF) party ticket. According to Mangi, although nearly all the seats in the Kilifi County had been taken by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), there was also dominance by a single ethnic group and that is the Mijikenda.
“I do not wish to be tribal or discriminatory in my judgment, the Constitution is clear about our rights but the fact is that unless the present total dominance of the Mijikenda community is addressed through sober nominations, the region will suffer imbalance in its development agenda,” he noted.
Speaking in Malindi, Mangi expressed fears that the minority in the Kilifi County including the women, people from up country counties and the general business community remained clearly unrepresented in the just concluded elections. Chief campaigner for ODM in Malindi Constituency, John Kambi Dosa also expressed fears that the dominance of the Mijikenda community in all leadership positions would create an imbalance in development and fair representation. He asked the winners to consider offering qualified people available po-
litical positions through nominations to promote cohesion. “Elected leaders to various positions should approach the nominations in a sober way and include other minority groups in the beneficiary lists,” said Dosa. The business community in Malindi also asked the elected leaders to
“We are worried about the results of the general election in the Kilifi County in majority of the electoral areas where the predominant local and Christian Giriama community dominated the seats right from the gubernatorial to ward positions.” — Morris Mangi
ensure that those nominated represented the interest of the other minority groups including foreign investors and businesspeople from upcountry that represent a huge chunk of the electorate.
According to Andrew Mataza, North Coast chairman of the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned that unless nominations were fair and directed towards creating a balance in leadership, Kilifi may end up with huge development imbalances. Mataza partly blamed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for what he termed as failure to undertake adequate voter education, a situation he charged for dominance of a single party in the region’s politics. He said that although the Cord Coalition Presidential candidate had differed with the “full suit style of electing leaders (election of leaders from the same party at all positions) ”,
the people of the Kilifi County seemed not to have been well informed in their choice of leaders and parties they were expected to vote for. He hoped that nominations would finally address the imbalances caused by the selections in the general election in representation of various minority groups. Mataza insisted that Kilifi County was metropolitan in its nature and for that reason minority groups such as the business community and foreign investors should benefit from nominations in political positions from county to ward level. “I plead that those mandated to undertake nomination at various levels will consider giving slots to the various minority groups including foreign investors to ensure that the metropolitan status of the county is not lost,” observed Mataza. He added: “Let us have all the communities living in Kilifi represented at the political level of management so that we can mix and work to develop the county.”