Flair of women as DG running mates
Women leaders have reaped big in the battle for county seats, with governor candidates settling on them as running mates.
Going by the nominations, the August polls may record an unprecedented number of female candidates for county seats, especially the deputy governorship.
Besides gender, the governorship aspirants’ choices have been largely driven by power-sharing deals to tap into areas with swing votes.
Lawyer Linda Kiome Gitonga may become the first woman to occupy the office of Deputy Governor in Meru if Senator Mithiki Linturi, of UDA, wins.
Kiome served as an acting president of the Law Society of Kenya when Nelson Havi was ousted in January this year and is the chairperson of the Mt Kenya branch caucus.
Below 40 years
Linturi picked Ms Kiome, who is below 40 years, in a bid to win the votes of women and youth.
But the move also ensured regional and ethnic balance.
Kiome hails from Imenti North Sub-County, which has never produced a top county government leader in Meru since devolution.
The Meru governor race is likely to be won by the candidate who will mobilise support from the three sub-tribes of Igembe, Imenti and Tigania.
Picking a running mate from Imenti North, and having promised to appoint his County Secretary from Tigania if elected, Linturi, who is from Igembe South, believes he has a balanced mix.
“When I was the MP for Igembe South I was on record as having empowered women and men in equal measure. It is important to empower a woman in society. Today in Meru, we have a population of 834,000 registered voters out of which 434,000 are women, meaning the majority of our population are women. I decided to nominate a woman who is below 40 years as my running mate as a way of appreciating and empowering women,” Linturi said.
Yesterday, Kajiado governor aspirant Katoo ole Metito (UDA) also picked youthful Judy Muthoni Pere from the populous Kajiado North constituency as his running-mate.
Metito’s decision was strategic — to win over voters with roots in central Kenya and other immigrant communities. Little is known of Muthoni, a 32-year-old university graduate.
“Katoo’s move to settle on a woman is timely: to woo women to support his candidature as well as target youth votes in the larger Kajiado North Constituency swing vote,” said Raf Sharrif, a political analyst.
Former governor David Nkedianye, who is seeking to recapture the seat on a Jubilee ticket, has joined hands with Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje as his running mate.
Manje also hails from the same Kajiado North Constituency.
Governor Joseph ole Lenku (ODM) has retained his current deputy governor Martin Moshisho.
Other aspirants who have picked female candidates include:
Murang’a’s Irungu Nyakera (Farmers Party) who named Catherine Mugo his running mate.
Jubilee’s Jamleck Kamau picked Naomi Kagone, while Irungu Kang’ata settled on Dr Winnie Mwangi as his running mate.
Mwangi is a land economics expert who comes from Karagia village in Gatanga sub-county.
Former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto of Chama Cha Mashinani also settled on 29-year-old Doris Chepkoech from Sotik constituency as his would-be deputy.
In Kwale, former PS Hamadi Boga picked Safina Kwekwe while his opponent Lungazi Chai settled on Kavwa Mwakaribu.
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, who is gunning to capture the Bungoma governorship, chose Jennifer Mbatiany as running mate.
In Nakuru, Governor Lee Kinyanjui has dropped his deputy Erick Korir after naming Nakuru West parliamentary aspirant Franciscar Kamuren as his running mate.
In what is seen as a bold move, Kinyanjui broke tradition by naming Ms Kamuren as his deputy designate; first a woman and two, a Tugen.
In Siaya, former police spokesman Charles Owino dropped out of the Siaya deputy governor race and was replaced by veteran journalist David Ohito as Nicholas Gumbo’s running mate.
It was not immediately established whether he was going back to the Service or had been offered a position in one of the institutions under the Ministries of Interior or Trade.
Owino only confirmed that he had dropped out before the names were gazetted, a thing he said would have affected his next appointment. “I will serve the Siaya people better as a governor, later. I have dropped out of the race,” he said without confirming whether he was headed back to the Service.
But reports indicate that the Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate and other top government officials had prevailed upon him to drop his bid, in what others said, in favour of James Orengo.
Reacting to Owino’s exit, Gumbo said he was undeterred in his quest for the seat. He said the substantive candidate in the race is not the deputy but the governor. “If it’s true he has abandoned me in the hour of need, then I have no choice but to source for other potential people who have clout in the region to be my deputy.”
Ohito said he had not landed the slot but was under consideration: “I am one of the two finalists to become Gumbo’s running mate after Owino Wakhongo formally withdrew from the race. I do not know who the party will settle on eventually. The other one is Dr Martin Barasa, a veterinarian”.
In Kakamega, the ODM candidate Fernandes Barasa says he settled on Lugari MP Ayub Savula as his running mate to add “political impetus” to his campaigns.
“Savula has been active in political activities in Kakamega because he used to provide coverage for politicians when he worked as a news reporter,” said Barasa. “He gained experience that enabled him to be elected MP for Lugari, not once but twice. So that experience is very valuable to our bid.”
He said Savula was also an astute businessman who could help him run affairs of the county effectively.
On his part, Savula said he would fully campaign for Barasa and support him if they win.
“I have known Barasa for many years. He is a seasoned manager and I believe we shall win this seat and change the face of Kakamega,” he added.
The duo decided to join forces following a deal hammered by Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya representing ODM and Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, and Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi.
Savula had earlier declared interest in the seat on the DAP-K ticket after decamping from ANC in protest over the move by party leader Musalia Mudavadi to join forces with Deputy President William Ruto.
Reports by Dorcas Mbatia, Christine Musa, Noah Chepleon, Eric Juma and Dennis Lumiti