Kenya could get its first female governor in the next General Election after 10 women formally submitted their bids, as indicated in the list of aspirants published by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
Unlike in the last elections, where seven women were on the ballot, those who have expressed their interest this time are seasoned politicians, a majority of who have won electoral contests in the past.
All aspirants are set for a tough week as campaigns for party nominations enter the homestretch and the major parties hold their primaries.
Of the 10, seven have experience from having been MPs, three of them are sitting MPs. One, Anne Waiguru, has been a powerful Cabinet Secretary.
She left that job asking to be assigned lighter duties. She would later announce her entry into politics.
Ms Waiguru is seeking the Jubilee ticket to contest for the governor’s seat in Kirinyaga.
If she makes it to the ballot, she will meet another former minister, MP and presidential candidate in the form of Martha Karua.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Joyce Laboso is the highest ranked woman seeking to become a governor.
She is competing against Dr Julius Kones for the Jubilee Party ticket to contest for the governor’s seat in Bomet.
At a meeting with more than 400 women aspirants in Nairobi last week, Dr Laboso said that women continue to be discriminated against in politics, adding that women’s road to leadership is bumpy.
She called on women to vie for political seats and not be cowed by their male counterparts, saying that they all have equal capabilities when it comes to leadership roles.
Her confidence has been boosted by an Infotrak opinion poll that showed she is neck and neck with Isaac Ruto, the incumbent, as they are only a point apart.
In the poll released last Tuesday, 38.9 per cent of the 800 respondents surveyed said they will vote for Mr Ruto in the August 8 General Election while 37.7 per cent said they will vote for Dr Laboso.
The deputy speaker has told Mr Ruto to brace for tough days because after the primaries, she says, nothing will stop her from clinching the top seat in the county.
“The Infotrak survey has showed that Mr Ruto is ahead with only one point and the same poll shows that Jubilee is the popular party with 79 per cent so you can put two and two together,” she said.
UNSEAT DR MUTUA
Two-time Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire is seeking the Jubilee ticket to go for the seat in Embu, her home county.
In Machakos, Wavinya Ndeti wants to unseat Dr Alfred Mutua. She was a distant second to the same man in 2013, getting 92,219 votes against his 257,367.
However, this time around she has the Wiper Democratic Movement’s endorsement while Dr Mutua went and formed his own party, Maendeleo Chap Chap.
Former Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu is in the race in Kitui, while former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru is among those seeking Jubilee’s endorsement to go for the seat in Nairobi.
In Kakamega, Mabel Muruli will once again be contesting for the governor’s seat while next door in Trans Nzoia, nominated senator Catherine Mukiite is also seeking to be on the ballot.
In Nandi, Yulita Chebotip is seeking the Jubilee Party ticket.
The women who competed for the governorship in 2013 are Ms Ndeti (Machakos), Jacinta Mwatela (Taita Taveta), Sophy Wali Kibai (Taita Taveta), Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Alice Were (Busia), Nellie Okwiri (Siaya) and Alice Ngok (Nairobi).