The entry of the American-based philanthropist Mwende Mwinzi into the Mwingi West parliamentary race has spiced the contest.
The only woman in a pool of men and riding on Jubilee ticket, Mwende is taking a huge gamble in a region largely dominated by CORD co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement.
About five other aspirants have trained their guns against sitting MP Ben Kitungi who has since fallen out with his political benefactor in local politics, Senator David Musila.
For more than 15 years, Mwende has been running the Twana Twitu (Our Children) home based orphanage for vulnerable children. The foundation is straddled across the breadth and width of the constituency and beyond.
“I am humbled by the warmth the people of Mwingi West have received me with. If you remember, I have been working with many of them in the last 10 to 15 years and so I am not a stranger. I want to make a difference in the quality of our people’s lives. I have done this from out there and I will do it in there,” she told the Standard.
Besides her family’s vast connections with who is who in Kitui and Kamba politics, Mwende is counting on the networks she has built over the years to topple Kitungi. Her late father, Maluki Mwinzi, was a renowned teacher and a politician in the same area.
Her only opponent in Jubilee- Koki Musau, has since bolted from Jubilee and joined Charity Ngilu’s NARC. Kitungi will be battling for the Wiper ticket with newcomer Charles Nguna.
“I am telling my people to look at individuals, not parties. I have the record and I want them to vote me on Jubilee, the party that I know will form the next government. I am glad my people are receptive of this message and we are doing quite well,” she says.
Mwende whom the locals are calling “Kelitu Kaitu”- our girl- says she’s unstoppable. She wants the people of Mwingi West to look at individual track records of the aspirants and only vote in the best.