Waiguru’s predecessor, Joseph Ndathi, against ladies of steel in Kirinyaga race
An epic battle is looming in the Kirinyaga gubernatorial race, pitting three “Ladies of Steel”: Governor Anne Waiguru, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and current Woman Rep Purity Ngirici.
All the three have already declared their interest in the seat come next year and have lately engaged in bare-knuckle verbal warfare, setting the stage for what promises to be one of the hardest fought political contest in modern times.
Nowhere else in the country has the battle for the gubernatorial seat been reduced to a supremacy contest among women, in what pundits reckon may play into the hands of Waiguru’s predecessor, Joseph Ndathi, who despite losing in the 2017 election, still enjoys considerable support in the agricultural county, thanks to his development record.
Ndathi is credited with improving health services and infrastructure in the county during his first term, which saw 13 new dispensaries built across the devolved unit.
“Ndathi’s record speaks for itself especially his passion for improving infrastructure, supporting agriculture and constructing the county headquarters in Kutus.
He will be the man to watch come next year” said Charles Wamwea, a university don.
Waiguru who had previously shown interest in running for higher office has thrown her hat in the ring and on Monday appeared to suggest that she would support ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential bid.
Speaking at Kerugoya town last month, Waiguru said that she has not been approached by any of the leaders eyeing the nation’s top seat, and thus any information on the same should be treated as rumours.
While addressing women groups set to benefit from Wezesha- a programme set to support livestock farming in the county, Waiguru said her only interest is to vie for Kirinyaga county’s top seat for a second term.
“As the governor of Kirinyaga, I am focusing on my re-election in 2022. I have not held any discussion with any of the leaders who have declared interest in the presidential race, neither have I negotiated for any other seat,” she said.
The governor, however, said that the people peddling such information in various social media platforms have only noticed her potential.
Waiguru is banking on the youth and women support to re-clinch the seat. However, her four-year reign has been marred by claims of favouritism and high handedness.
“Waiguru is a high handed task master which has put her at loggerheads with staff at the county Executive,” an employee who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals told People Daily.
Pundits are predicting a hard sell as far as Waiguru is concerned, especially after her dalliance with DP Ruto’s UDA party then see-sawing back to the Raila/Uhuru axis.
“She (Waiguru) has to declare her stand if she wants to lead Kirinyaga come 2022. At the moment, her position is still unknown,” said a political analyst well versed with Kirinyaga politics.
On the other hand, Karua is taking yet another stab at the governor’s race after losing in 2017 to Waiguru.
Karua is banking on her reformist agenda to win the tightly contested race.
In an interview with a local TV station, Karua said she has not shelved her presidential ambitions adding that at the moment, the needs of the people of Kirinyaga are closer to her heart.
“I am not done with presidency and one day I will run again for the seat. For now my calling is to serve Kirinyaga because of the problems I have seen the people face like lack of drugs in hospitals,” Karua said.
Political observers say that Karua’s activism and feminist stand may well be her undoing given that the older male voters view her as biased when it comes to men and the boy child issues.
“Karua will have a mountain to climb if she has to convince the conservative male voters that she has a positive agenda for them”, said Karima Emmanuel, a youth leader from Mwea.
Ngirichi rose on the Jubilee wave to clinch the seat. She has openly declared her undying support for DP Ruto and UDA.
Reclaim his seat
“We shall pay the debt owed to Ruto. I am convinced the people of Kirinyaga will give me an opportunity to lead them as governor come 2022,” Ngirichi said during a recent public meeting in Kirinyaga.
However, given the fluidity of Kirinyaga politics and Central Kenya at large, political analysts aver that Ngirichi could have put the cart before the horse especially by declaring that she will run on an UDA ticket.
“Nobody knows the outcome of the UDA nominations. We are yet to see the card that President Uhuru Kenyatta will play. It is early too early,” said Martha Muriuki, a resident of Kutus.
Pundits are, however keenly watching Ndathi; who recently declared that he had joined former Agriculture Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party on whose ticket; he will try to reclaim his seat.