Unfazed, Pareno leads women in Kajiado war
Nominated Senator Judith Pareno has rolled up her sleeves for the Kajiado senate contest against four male candidates.
Interestingly, women in the county are now flexing their muscles for elective seats. But the recent party primaries left Kajiado women bruised politically after their self-christened captain, Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko, who was eyeing the governorship, lost the UDA ticket to Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito.
During the past two elections, Maa women have fought for political space in the highly patriarchal community. The county has two nominated senators: Pareno and her Jubilee counterpart, Mary Seneta, who is seeking to replace Tobiko in Kajiado East on a UDA ticket.
With Tobiko out of the big fight, Pareno is bracing for a titanic battle with Seki Kanar (UDA) and former MP Moses ole Sakuda(Jubilee).
Has Raila’s ear
An experienced lawyer who has served as the Irange Democratic Movement (ODM) National Election Board chairperson, Pareno has been an influential, though quiet, member of Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s inner circle, especially in the region.
The candidates are fighting to succeed Senator Philip Mpayiei, who was elected on a Jubilee ticket but defected to UDA where he lost in the party primaries.
Pareno enjoys the support of Governor Joseph ole Lenku (ODM), who is seeking a second term in office. She also has the support of county assembly speaker Johnson Osoi. The county speaker had been eyeing the same seat under Jubilee but was persuaded to drop out in her favour.
“I’ve been tested and proven. My record speaks for itself. I’ve come up with several Bills in the Senate and I always advocate issues that favour the people of Kajiado. I’m ready to face other contestants,’’ said Pareno.
It remains to be seen if the fielding of two candidates by Azimio will favour the UDA candidate in the cosmopolitan county.
Sakuda emerged as the preferred Jubilee candidate during the party’s consensus. In 2012, he was elected for a short stint as Kajiado North MP following a by-election occasioned by the death of then Internal Security Minister George Saitoti. He later shifted his political base to the newly created Kajiado West constituency, winning the seat in 2013 (TNA).
In 2017, he lost the Jubilee-TNA ticket to Kajiado County Assembly deputy speaker George Sunkuiya and unsuccessfully vied as an independent.
Sakuda hopes to make a comeback, with the support of former Governor David Nkedianye and other Jubilee-allied leaders.
Former Kajiado County Public Service executive committee member Samuel Seki Kanar (UDA) says he is the best bet for the post. Between 2013-2017, Seki was the Narok county secretary. He resigned before his term ended to run for Kajiado governorship, but later shelved his ambition to support ole Lenku.
He was given various positions in Lenku’s administration but resigned after they fell out. “Politics is a game of numbers and strategy. Kajiado residents want fresh blood in politics,’’ he said.
Former East Africa Portland Cement Company CEO Simon Peter ole Nkeri will be making a second stab at the senatorial seat.
In 2013, his senatorial interim certificate was withdrawn minutes after he won the Jubilee nominations. He was branded an opposition mole by party officials and the ticket given to runners-up Peter Mositet, who ended up as Kajiado’s first senator.
Nkeri will be running on former Agricultural Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party (TSP) ticket.
“I have experience in oversight roles and I’m sure Kajiado residents, whom I’ve interacted with directly while serving at Portland firm, can attest to that”, he said.
Gideon Toimasi, 27, a student at the University of Nairobi will also be trying his luck on a Wiper Party ticket. “I have packaged myself as an anti-clan champion. It is time we embrace politics beyond clans,’’ says Toimasi.
Former Senator Peter Mositet (now Jubilee deputy party leader in charge of programmes), will not seek his former seat.