The entry of Mwende Gatabaki in the Kiambu governorship race appears to have ruffled the feathers of her rivals.
Ms Gatabaki caused a stir during the Kiambu governor debate on Citizen TV with the way she articulated issues.
The Safina Party candidate was eloquent and firm.
She challenged the male candidates, among them incumbent James Nyoro (Juilee), William Kabogo (Tujibebe), Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria (Chama Cha Kazi), Senator Kimani Wamatangi (UDA) and Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina (independent) to quit the race.
She argued that men had failed Kiambu residents.
“Competition is good but all the five male candidates need to step down for women to steer Kiambu to another level since they have failed the test of time they have been given,” she said.
If elected, Gatabaki will be Kiambu’s first female governor.
Speaking to The Standard at her home in Roselyne estate in Gigiri, Gatabaki said she loves to Zumba during her free time.
“I love fitness, other than golfing, I am into Zumba dance. I do this at least four times a week or sometimes as I stroll with my husband during the evening hours,” she said.
Gatabaki is the wife of economist David Ndii, an advisor to UDA presidential candidate William Ruto.
Gatabaki is charting her own political path, vying on a Safina Party ticket.
She said this is a strategic move and there is no conflict between them.
“We sat down and agreed. As a politician, you look for a party that will hold you on the ballot on the election date. We all know what happens in party nominations... Considering how UDA party is in Kiambu, my chances to go through the nominations were slim,” she said.
She is the daughter of Senior Chief Peter Gatabaki of Thakwa, who is also a former Githunguri MP.
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She was born and raised in Githunguri. She attended Githunguri Primary School and Limuru Girls High School. She later pursued a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science at Kenyatta University and graduated in 1990.
She holds a postgraduate diploma in computer science from Salford University and a master’s degree in management and organisational development from United States International University.
She worked as a network administrator at USAID then later moved to KWS where she served as IT manager.
In 2004, she moved to the Kenya Tea Development Agency which she left in 2010 as ICT Group General Manager.
In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta tapped her to be Director General at the Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service and as chair of the Presidential Digital Transformations of Government.
Later, she oversaw strategy development while working for consulting firm McKinsey & Company as the Senior Public Sector Advisor for East Africa.
She is currently with Lattice Consulting Limited where she serves as the company’s founder and managing director.
Gatabaki is vying alongside another female candidate Agnes Ndungu (independent).
She said Kabogo, Wamatangi and Nyoro cannot be the change Kiambu residents deserve.
“Some of those who have been Kiambu governor have never managed a billion shillings. Some of us have managed over Sh80 billion,” she said.
She appealed to Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his UDA counterpart William Ruto to support the nine female governorship candidates across the country.
“We are in competition with big names who have been there but they do not have the necessary credentials of leadership, management and professional expertise to turn around Kiambu County,” Gatabaki said.
Kimani Kariuki, a resident, said Gatabaki was the best candidate considering that her manifesto addresses issues facing the people of Kiambu.
“But she hasn’t campaigned enough... her presence should be felt in the 12 sub-counties.”