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Battle for Kirinyaga woman rep seat overshadows governor’s race

A Kirinyaga trader Purity Ngirichi addresing the press at Kiburu Primary school Ndia constituency where she declared her interests in the County Woman Representative seat come the general elections. [PHOTO:MUNENE KAMAU/STANDARD]

Stakes are high for the Kirinyaga Woman Representative seat currently held by Winnie Njuguna following the entry of heavy weights into the race.

Unlike in 2013, when the seat attracted little attention, this year’s election has brought a different dimension with the position attracting high interest across the agriculture-rich county.

The campaigns of those seeking the Jubilee Party ticket have even overshadowed the governor’s position, which is considered among the most powerful seats in the county.

From the ground to the air, the contenders seeking the coveted Jubilee Party (JP) ticket are leaving nothing to chance in their colourful campaigns.

Giving the less vocal Ms Njuguna sleepless nights is multi-millionaire businesswoman Purity Ngirici, whose husband Andrew Ngirici is associated with the family of former wealthy spymaster, the late James Kanyotu.

Another flamboyant aspirant spicing up the campaigns is Rose Mugucu, a former teacher and trade unionist.

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The incumbent, who is not a well-known individual due to her laid-back character, is a former teacher who was elected overwhelmingly on a TNA ticket in 2013.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Management from St Paul’s University late last year. She rose from a classroom teacher to a college tutor at Kigari Teachers College Embu before she retired.

Njuguna would later join politics and, riding on the populous TNA party during the 2013 General Election, easily beat several other contestants including Beth Wambura (Mazingira Party) and Wanjiku Gatimu who vied on a GNU ticket.

Table banking

Since being elected, she boasts the establishment of table banking for women in the county, which has positively transformed women who were previously down-trodden.

“I have also been able to unite all women’s groups in the county and that is why you don’t hear any squabbles in women leadership. At national level, I have lobbied for so many women’s issues,” she says.

But it is Ms Ngirici who has captured the attention of many with her top-notch campaigns that involves two helicopters branded with her campaign slogan and large portraits of herself.

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On land, the woman who began endearing herself to Kirinyaga residents as early as last year has more than 300 vehicles emblazoned with her campaign paraphernalia.

In response, Njuguna and Ms Mugucu’s campaign machinery is leaving nothing to chance as they embark on door-to-door campaigns to convince voters ahead of next week’s party nominations.

The issues at hand in the county include youth unemployment, women empowerment, health, water and sanitation. The eloquent Mugucu comes from the voter-rich Mwea constituency and the fact that she was a teacher in various schools in the county gives her an upper hand because she is well known.

On the other hand, she is being dismissed by pundits who say despite her political acumen and eloquence that have attracted a large following, her campaign machinery cannot compare to her competitors’.

To complement Ngirici’s vast resources is the support she enjoys from her equally rich husband. The couple has been engaged in serious campaigns over the last two years.

Ngirici, who is in her early 40s, has a bachelor of commerce degree from a London university and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Human Resource at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

She has already set her agenda if elected, with special focus on youth and women empowerment.

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Medical camps

Since her entry into politics, Ngirici has engaged in charity work that includes free medical camps, gravelling roads using her own resources and paying school fees for children from poor families.

“I am not joining politics to earn a salary because God has already blessed me abundantly. I want to be involved in the positive economic transformation and empowerment of our people by ensuring that proper policies and legislation are in place to eventually make them self-reliant,” she says.

The mother of three says she has all what it takes to lead as a woman representative given her upcountry upbringing.

“I was born in this county, pursued my primary and secondary school education locally and think I am well placed to adequately address the myriad problems women and youth faced in this region,” she says.

Mugucu says if elected, she will offer servant leadership that would empower women and youth.

“Having been a teacher for a long time posted mainly in the county, I have established the main socio-economic problems facing women and youth. I’m going to be their voice in Parliament,” she says.

Also in the race is current County Assembly Speaker Anne Wangechi, who was not keen on being interviewed for this article.

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