The appointment of Monicah Juma to the Cabinet was supposed to evoke joy in Ukambani owing to the fact that the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary is a daughter of the community.
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That, however, has not been the case as it turned out last weekend when she held a low key homecoming ceremony at her father’s home in Nuu Ward, Mwingi Central Constituency, Kitui County.
Save for Governor Charity Ngilu who sent her deputy Wathe Nzau to represent her, virtually all other local leaders gave the party a wide berth.
Sources divulged the boycott was meant to send a signal to Juma and President Kenyatta that she does not represent the interests of the Kamba community in the Cabinet.
The CS is married to Prof Peter Kagwanja. Through sheer hard-work and competence, she rose from an ambassador to a Principal Secretary and to a CS.
Curiously, Jubilee’s Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai, Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town) and Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) snubbed the event.
Speaking to Sunday Standard, Mr Mbai claimed Juma was being fronted in a mischievous scheme to divide the Kamba community.
Divide the community
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The MP said it was curious for the CS to hold her homecoming party at her father’s home just when Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka had decided to support the government’s agenda and the handshake between President Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga.
“Her so-called homecoming was pioneered by political mafias to fool and divide the community, that’s why we deliberately kept off. Besides, Monica has no attachment in Kitui and so she cannot represent our interests,” Mbai said. The legislator argued that in Kamba culture, when a woman is married off, she can only represent the community where she is married.
He also claimed that President Kenyatta garnered many votes in Ukambani during the repeat presidential poll and therefore the community needed a substantive position in the Cabinet.
“As it is now, the Kamba community is not represented in the Cabinet and we are requesting the President to consider appointing somebody from our community for regional balance,” Mbai pointed out.
And like Mbai, former Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu who contested on Jubilee ticket in the August 8 elections and who was one of the leading lights during party campaigns in the region said on Juma’s appointment, the community was duped.
Mr Mutambu who comes from the same village as Juma dismissed her homecoming party as a joke and an insult to the community. “She is trying to justify that she comes from Ukambani and at the same time she belongs to Muranga, that’s why over the last five months she has held five homecoming parties in different places. We want to know who is footing the bills,” he charged.
The former MP said he welcomed President Kenyatta in Ukambani, and thus has a duty to tell him the truth about the disquiet in the region.
“Kambas have zero representation in the Cabinet. We might not demonstrate in the streets but deep in our hearts the community is hurting,” said Mutambu.
To buttress the point that Juma cannot represent the region when she is married outside, Mutambu gave the examples of Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua and former Kwale Woman Rep Zainabu Chidzuga, both of whom hail from Ukambani.
Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua also poured scorn on Juma’s event. The senator skipped the event and instead joined the senate committee on roads, transport and infrastructure to inspect the Kibwezi – Kitui – Mwingi road.
“What does homecoming mean? Doesn’t it mean going to your home? So is Monicah’s home not in Murang’a County?” posed Wambua. For Mwala MP Vincent Musau, the CS has been lukewarm in her relations with area leaders and has done little effort to come closer to them. She said area leaders, including those working with Jubilee, do not feel her.
“I can’t even call it a boycott. We just do not relate with her at all to the level of attending her events. I wish her well but I wish she learned from her predecessor Cleopha Mailu,” he said.
The critical leaders, however, note that Juma deserves the Cabinet position owing to her professional competence but this should not be used to hoodwink Ukambani region.
The hushed party was attended by Cabinet Secretaries Cecily Kariuki (Health) and Simon Chelugui (Water), Kenyan ambassador to Uganda Kiema Kilonzo, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and former Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga.
During the fete, the CS said she was happy to be back home and delivered greetings from President Kenyatta and Kalonzo. Some of the speakers said that Juma was now ripe for a higher political seat. Our efforts to reach out to the CS for comments were futile.