Women of steel outgun male rivals to clinch party tickets
Women aspirants have taken advantage of friendly nomination conditions to seek tickets, with a good number emerging victorious in nail-biting races.
In the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) nominations, women have so far stamped their authority, winning tickets in unlikely contests against male challengers.
Although the number of those who have won is still low, a noticeable number emerged victorious in tough contests.
In the UDA primaries held last Thursday, women won tough battles for governorship and parliamentary seats, racing neck-and-neck with men. Three were picked by voters in Rift Valley to vie for parliamentary seats, continuing a trend where women aspirants have been preferred in the region.
Debut in politics
Deputy President William Ruto’s former Chief of Staff, Maryanne Keitany, won the Aldai constituency battle against four male challengers as she made her debut in politics. She got 15,736 votes, beating incumbent MP Cornelly Serem (14,041 votes).
Keitany focused on door-to-door campaigns when she launched her bid last year and was often seen mingling with locals.
She says she will focus on improving education standards in the constituency, accusing her predecessors of ignoring the sector. “The current leadership has misplaced priorities, for instance, giving priorities to purchasing school buses instead of focusing on infrastructure,” she said.
In Moiben, the locals have an opportunity to elect their first woman MP following the victory by Phyllis Bartoo in repeat nominations held on Tuesday.
She had earlier won the polls last Thursday but these were annulled after aspirant James Kibor, who emerged fourth, complained. In the repeat exercise on Tuesday, Bartoo, a former Egerton University lecturer, won with 12,116 votes against former Eldoret East MP Joseph Lagat (10,191 votes). Kibor was third with 4,451 votes.
“The voice of the people has prevailed. Thanks for your trust in me. I will never disappoint you,” said Prof Bartoo. She will face incumbent MP Silas Tiren, who is seeking a third term as an independent candidate.
Still in Uasin Gishu, Turbo MP Janet Sitienei is a step away from serving her second term after winning the UDA primaries.
She was elected as an independent lawmaker in the last polls but shifted to the DP’s party this time. She beat seven male contestants.
In Mt Kenya region, women also showed their steel, winning bruising battles while a number were given direct tickets. Former Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a will seek to recapture her seat after she was handed a direct UDA ticket. She will face off with Bishop David Ngari alias Gakuyo, who is seeking the same seat on a Jubilee ticket.
Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba won the UDA nomination for Githunguri MP seat, while party colleagues Charity Kathambi (Njoro) and Jayne Kihara (Naivasha) were also victorious. Other women who scooped tickets in Mt Kenya region are Ruth Mwaniki (Kigumo, Jubilee), Wambura Wamuranga (Mathira, Jubilee), Jackie Nungari (Limuru, Jibebe), Esther Gathogo (Ruiru, Jubilee) and Mary Wamaua (Maragua, UDA).
Handed direct tickets
Those handed direct tickets include Sarah Korere (Laikipia North, Jubilee), Mishi Mboko (Likoni, ODM), Millie Odhiambo (Suba North, ODM), Lillian Gogo (Rangwe), Rozaah Buyu, (Kisumu Town West, ODM) and Eve Obara (Kabondo Kasipul).
Priscilla Nyokabi was also picked by Jubilee to run for Nyeri senate seat.
In Embu, Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire won the UDA Embu governorship contest, flooring fellow lawmaker John Muchiri (Manyatta). Mbarire, a battle-hardened politician, garnered 54,833 votes against Muchiri’s 21,963.
“This is not my win but that of the people of Embu and our party, UDA. Let’s now channel our focus to winning the August polls,” she said after the polls that were earlier in disarray after ballot papers and boxes were torched by locals protesting alleged rigging plans in Embu town.
Mbarire will battle for the seat with former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti of Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) and Emilio Kathuri who will contest on Jubilee.
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika was handed a direct UDA ticket to vie for the county’s governorship, as was Governor Anne Waiguru to defend her Kirinyaga seat.
Wiper party has picked former Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Wavinya Ndeti for Machakos governor’s contest; while ODM handed Gladys Wanga a ticket to run for Homa Bay governorship.
Wanga has got the full support of ODM leader Raila Odinga who brokered a deal that saw her handed a direct ticket last month. At the weekend, Raila dismissed those fighting her candidature.
“Some people say Wanga was born in Kano and that she now wants to run for governor in Homa Bay County. Those who are opposing her candidature because of this thinking are as foolish as their mothers,” the party leader said during the burial of Paddy Ahenda, Kenya’s Ambassador to Qatar who died early this month at Nyasore Village in Kabondo Kasipul in the county.
Raila is pushing for consideration of women for senior governance positions and presently the Azimio-One Kenya coalition he leads is seeking a female running mate for his presidential candidature.
Parties halved the nomination fee for woman aspirants for all the seats in an attempt to entice many of them to vie for the various positions. For instance, both ODM and UDA charged them Sh250,000 and Sh125,000 for governor and MP seats respectively with male aspirants paying double that.
Ruto also issued orders against any violence on women aspirants under his party saying anyone who will attack them will be banned from the outfit.