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Women step up bid for governor, will they crack?

Kakamega governor aspirant Mabel Muruli. (Photo: File/Standard)

More women have thrown their hat in the ring for governors’ seats across the country than they did in 2013.

In the 2013 polls, only one woman, former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor Jacinta Mwatela, vied for governor, but she lost the Taita Taveta race to John Mruttu by 1,400 votes.

Two other women, Anne Anyanga of Migori County and Ruth Odinga of Kisumu, expressed their interests but later became running mates to ODM candidates. Odinga is currently Kisumu Deputy Governor, while Anyanga was Akong’o Oyugi’s running mate, but they lost to Okoth Obado of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Among those who have declared interest in the governor seats in the August 8 polls are Mrs Anyanga, Ms Odinga, National Assembly Deputy Speaker and Sotik MP Joyce Laboso (Bomet), former Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire (Embu), former ministers  Martha Karua and Anne Waiguru, both gunning for Kirinyaga seat.

Others are former assistant ministers Margaret Wanjiru (Nairobi) and Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), nominated MCA Margaret Loduk (Turkana), scholar Yulita Mitei (Nandi) and businesswomen Mabel Muruli (Kakamega) and Winnie Kaburu (Meru).

In the Kirinyaga race, Karua (Narc Kenya) and Waiguru (Jubilee Party) are both from Gichugu Constituency. Waiguru will have to first win the JP ticket against incumbent Joseph Ndathi before she can meet Karua at the ballot.

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In Bomet, Laboso has trained her political eyes on the maverick politician and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, but she will have to first beat former Konoin MP Julius Kones to the JP ticket.

And in Kisumu, Ms Odinga will challenge her boss Jack Ranguma and Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, among other aspirants, for the ODM ticket.

Laboso says her candidature is not because she is a woman, adding that she has what it takes to offer the best for Bomet people.

“I am ready to serve my people of Bomet, my mind is clear and I am focused to improve the living standards of the residents. The current leadership has failed miserably and residents are not ready to re-elect it,” said Laboso.

Mrs Anyanga, the wife of Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga, will battle it out with Okoth Obado, who recently rejoined ODM, and former minister Ochilo Ayacko.

Party loyalty

She claims she won the ODM ticket in 2013, but was impressed upon to drop her bid two hours before she presented papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and be Prof Oyugi’s running mate. “The party’s elections board asked me to allow Oyugi to run because I was still young and they would endorse me for the seat in 2017. I hope they keep their word, I have been loyal to the party and it is time ODM rewarded loyalty,” said Mrs Anyanga.

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She now says she has what it takes to help the county gain more from devolution.

Ngilu says the battle for Kitui is tough, but she is confident of victory given that her development track record in the county is strong and speaks for itself.

“The residents of Kitui County know my capacity for development and will vote for me on that basis of my development agenda,” she tells The Standard on Sunday.

The former Lands CS will have a political duel with either Governor Julius Malombe or Senator David Musila, depending on who will win the Wiper party ticket in the nominations.

Nominated Senator Martha Wangari, who has been vocal in calling for women’s representation, welcomes the increase in the number of women aspirants for governor.

“We cannot increase our numbers in the leadership if we do not get more women aspirants vying for various seats. It’s a step in the right direction if they ventured into other seats,” says Wangari.

Mbarire, who is also the Kenya Women Parliamentarians (KEWOPA) chairperson, says she is determined to bring back good and progressive leadership in Embu.

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“The Embu residents have really suffered under poor leadership,” says Mbarire.

For Ms Wanjiru, no amount of persuasion will distract her from the Nairobi governor’s seat and says she deserves to govern the capital city because women are better managers and are the missing link to development in the country.

“I thrust myself into the Nairobi gubernatorial seat because I have a vision of ‘Nairobi mpya’, which will be garbage and pothole-free and where transport and sewerage systems work effectively and efficiently,” says Wanjiru.

In Nandi, Dr Mitei will battle it out at the Jubilee Party primaries with Governor Cleopas Lagat, Senator Stephen Sang and former ministers Henry Kosgey and Felix Koskei. She says her only challenge is that she is contesting against people who are wealthy and can manage a well-oiled campaign.

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