By Jackie Kwanusu
With the announcements of running mates by the two formidable alliances; Kenya Kwanza and Azimio, where the Deputy President Ruto settled on Mathira Mp Rigathi Gachagua and the Raila led Azimio coalition settled for Martha Karua, it did mark the beginning of the last leg of the campaigns as the outfits were complete since the dice had been cast and there was no retreat hence opening the ground for aggressive campaigns. It seemed like it was a women affair as all the presidential candidates settled for women as possible running mates, with the Roots Party Prof. George Wajackoyah settling for Justina Wamae whereas Agano Party’s David Mwaure Wahiga picked Ruth Mutua.
Women have come a long way ever since the Beijing convention and Martha Karua being named as a running mate points to the tremendous milestones scaled by the girl child, her nomination was a boost to the 2/3rd gender rule and it clearly has set the precedence where those vying as governors have also adopted and endorsed female candidate as deputy governors. The modern girl child has continued to scale heights, breaking glass ceilings and indeed a win for one woman is a win for all women narrowing and closing the gap towards achieving the affirmative action that was introduced In the year 2007.
Although women in Kenya make up 52% of the population, they have been under-represented in parliament and this probable win for Martha Karua points to the possibility of a Kenyan woman presidency someday which is a big milestone as Martha Karua paints a new beacon of hope for the modern day woman, her nomination came with a frenzy, where the Kenyan women took to social media to celebrate her nomination, the fact that she has vied for the presidency notwithstanding, this was received with jubilation never seen before. In a patriarchal society, even a nomination for the running mate position is a win to the affirmative action.
As people in Mathira celebrated the nomination of Rigathi Gachagua as a possible deputy president of this great country Kenya come August 2022, his nomination was met with love and hate in equal measures, there were demonstrations in Tharaka where the locals felt short changed by the hustler nation as they preferred their own Prof. Kithure Kindiki who from initial reports had garnered more votes than Rigathi. It’s no secret in Kenya that the hoity-toity set’s the agenda and the hoi polloi complies. As much as Prof. Kindiki would have given Karua a run for her seat as his reputation is at per with the former Justice Minister, it had already been decided and the great Professor was left to settle for the Kenya Kwanza’s chief Agent position.
As for the Azimio coalition, it seemed to be a case of consensus where the nomination was given to the best candidate who emerged victorious after the Noah Wekesa led team did conduct interviews, such that, it is common knowledge that if your name didn’t appear anywhere during the interviews, you stood no chance of being a possible running mate and with that the coalition’s house was for once in order, but that’s not to say that Karua’s nomination was received with all glitters, there were cases of demonstrations where those who felt she isn’t worth the salt took to the streets demonstrating against her nomination.
Both Mr. Ruto and Mr. Odinga are targeting the vote rich Mt. Kenya region, where the Kikuyu ethnic group, is the majority and also Kenya’s largest tribe who happen to control the economy. Whether the son and daughter of Mumbi will deliver the expectation to their political outfit is only a matter of time.
With the unveiling of Karua as a possible DP in the few months to come, the Kenya Kwanza coalition did succumb to pressure and unveil the women charter, this is in a bid to assure the women who felt under-represented in the coalition as all the formidable parties that have signed a working relation with UDA being male dominated that indeed the coalition had women agenda at the back of their blueprint.
It has come a time when the women agenda can no longer be ignored whether in the political, social and economic spheres that not withstanding, we all know that in the case of electoral violence the most affected are always children and women who are our mothers, wives and daughters and with that, it seems the women agenda will spearhead the outcome of the 2022 elections.
As IMLU we have noted with concern the manner in which there was state interference in the unveiling of the Azimio running mate at KICC and it’s subsequent campaign rallies. This points to the government of the day having picked sides by having the interior CS at the podium, as we move closer to the elections date, we urge the IEBC to fasten its electoral preparedness so as to deliver a credible election which will safeguard and protect the citizenry. Subsequently, we ask the Police to continue maintaining law and order while respecting the fundamental rights of the citizens of this great country Kenya.