Women defying odds in bid to run counties

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa. [David Gichuru, Standard]

At least five women at the Coast are giving the governor race a stab, raising the stakes in the August 9 general election.

Four of them have been cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and are ready for a face-off with their male competitors.

No female governor or senator has ever been elected in the previous elections from the Coast. Women have attributed the situation to limited financial resources and strong cultural beliefs against women leadership.

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Kwale deputy governor Fatuma Achani will run for Kilifi and Kwale governor seats respectively on the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.

Prof Agnes Mwang’ombe of ANC has been given the nod to run for Taita Taveta governor while Ms Umra Omar, who has been running the Safari Doctors non-governmental organisation, was yesterday cleared to contest the Lamu governor post on a Safina ticket.

Ms Achani has picked Samburu-Chengoni MCA Chirema Kombo as her running mate. Ms Jumwa has settled for Jumuiya Ya Kaunti Za Pwani (JKP) chief executive officer Emmanuel Nzai while Ms Omar has gone for former Lamu West MP Julius Ndegwa as running mates.

Kwale deputy governor Fatuma Achani. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]


Also in the race for the Taita Taveta governor seat is media practitioner Patience Nyange who is vying on a Narc ticket. Ms Nyange had picked accountant Dalton Mwaghogho as her running mate. However, Ms Nyange went back to the drawing board after it emerged Mr Mwaghodho had not resigned by February 9 as had been directed by the IEBC. 

Ms Nyange, who was yesterday cleared to vie, was forced to pick another running mate, Habel Salimo, a former Taita-Taveta Water and Sewerage Company (Tavevo) Limited MD. Ms Nyange now becomes the second female politician to be cleared to vie for governor, a seat currently held by Mr Granton Samboja. 

Ms Nyange said she will ensure balanced political participation and power-sharing between women and men. Under her slogan Aminia Mama Movement, Ms Nyange said: “We are ready for the battle ahead. We will go out and promote one another, support each other and collaborate, we are changing our fortunes as women.”  

Ms Achani and Ms Jumwa, who have been cleared to vie, are banking on the support of DP William Ruto and the UDA wave as they compete against strong contenders. 

Ms Achani who also enjoys the backing of Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya on Sunday held roadshows with a major rally at Baraza Park in Kwale town.

“The Mvurya administration, which I was a part of, has delivered on its mandate and this can be seen across the county. The others have nothing to show,” she said.

Patience Nyange (centre) during a past Wiper party event.  [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Ms Achani will be competing against seasoned politician Chirau Mwakwere (Wiper), former Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga (ODM), former Kenya Ports Authority engineer Lung’anzi Chai (Pamoja African Alliance), Kwale county speaker Sammy Ruwa (Independent) and Mr Gereza Dena (Kanu). Ms Jumwa promised her competitors a fierce battle while calling for peaceful campaigns.

Ms Omar, 40, is expected to use her international connections to shore up her campaign against Governor Fahim Twaha of Jubilee, former governor Issa Timamy of ANC and former deputy governor Eric Mugo of Narc Kenya.

Ms Omar said she is determined to become the first female governor in the county.

“Our leadership will be different because it will focus on delivering services to the grassroots. We will stop importing employees from outside or issue tenders from outside the county.”

[Additional reporting by Renson Mnyamwezi]