After she unsuccessfully vied for the presidency as Prof Ole Kiyapi’s running mate in 2013, Winnie Kaburu is now trying her hand in the Meru gubernatorial seat.
The Wiper gubernatorial candidate wants to be among the first women to run the counties with a plan to transform the local economy through industrialisation.
Ms Kaburu follows strict Christian ethic and is promising to change the way politics is done in the region.
“One of my greatest challenges is debunking the politics of handouts. I cannot give people money so that they listen to me.
“I am offering myself as a servant to the people but it seems politics has taught them that I am the boss and I have to give them money.
“I am telling them that the politics of handouts is what breeding corruption in our country is,” Ms Kaburu says.
She adds, “I have worked hard for every coin I have. Some of my opponents are spending up to Sh2, 000 per person in their crowds. Where is this money coming from because its spending does not make business sense?”
The mother of five is a successful businesswoman and holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Nairobi.
She has experience in the business world where she has interests in hospitality, waste management, and medical supplies among others
Ms Kaburu was one of the founders of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) where she served as the vice-chairperson from 2003 to 2007.
“Under Kepsa, I have made a strong network of investors whom I intend to work with in improving the economy of Meru,” she said.
She is also a founder member of Fair Trade Organisation, a network organisation that creates equitable and sustainable channels in production and trade and she also established the National Association of Self Employed Women of Kenya (Naswok), an organisation that brings together women in small and medium-sized enterprises.
Having started it out at the national level in 2013, Ms Kaburu says she decided to come back to her county to contribute to its transformation.
“I can no longer watch by the sidelines and be a passive observer of the crisis that continues and worsens year after year. I am here to be the agent of change that Meru needs to make our people prosperous.
I am here to facilitate our repositioning to become part of the mainstream instead continuing to be an isolated people, to unite the Meru people and to regain control of our resources, so that we can be a richer people.” She states in her manifesto.
Her main focus is uniting the county, people centred leadership, job creation through sustainable economic opportunities, providing better basic services, providing support for the elderly and promoting the arts through provision of facilities.
Ms Kaburu pledges to establish a youth entrepreneurship and apprenticeship scheme and create a leading technology hub within Meru.
The hub will bring startups, entrepreneurs and industry specialists together in an innovative and vibrant environment”.
“I will implement value addition and product differentiation strategies which will make our products easier to process, transform, package and label. Through my investor networks, I will forge greater links with China to develop Meru based cottage industries where we have complete control of the entire supply chain process. This will ensure increase in our economic growth,” the Wiper candidate states.
She also promises to promote use of solar energy through group purchasing incentives, increase access to safe water and sanitation and set up support centres for the elderly.
However, her campaign has not been without challenges where some people still believe ‘a woman cannot lead’.
“I visited a women group recently and after sharing my vision with them, they promised to vote for me. However, one of the women was concerned whether I can beat the men in the race. Another young man wondered whether time was ripe for a female governor in Meru. Our people still need a lot of civic education to understand that leadership is not about gender,” she remarks.
Ms Kaburu said she has not been able to hold public rallies in the county because security chiefs have ignored her requests for police officers.
“When I request for security, I am told that a certain ‘Mheshimiwa’ has booked the day. One of the female parliamentary candidates told me that she cannot hold rallies due to lack of police officers, I have been forced to do my campaign house to house,” she says.
The National Super Alliance (Nasa) candidate is also disappointed that the principals backed her rival Peter Munya during their campaigns in Meru.
Ms Kaburu who comes from Maua in Igembe South has picked a running mate, Isaiah Laibuni from Tigania East.
She is facing off with the incumbent Peter Munya (PNU), Senator Kiraitu Murungi (Jubilee), Dr Kilemi Mwiria (MCC), independent candidates Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu and Bishop Kiambi Atheru.