After losing the Shirere ward rep seat, Victoria Zillah Ungai, a nominated MCA at Kakamega County Assembly was poised for nomination by DAP-K, owing to the role she played in the run-up to elections. She would later move to court over what she termed as ‘being shortchanged’. Ungai here speaks on why she is adamant that she will sue anyone who violates her constitutional rights. She spoke to Mary Imenza.
Before you challenged DAP-K in court to secure your seat as a nominated MCA after last year’s elections, little was known about you. Tell us who is Victoria Ungai?
I am a special elected MCA in Kakamega County, representing women and youth. I went to Keveye Girls School for my secondary education and later joined Kisumu Polytechnic where I pursued a Diploma in Purchasing and Supplies Management in 2007.
I worked as a project secretary with Kazi Mashambani Development Programme (KAMADEP), a Kakamega-based non-government organization (NGO) in 2008, and later served as a Project Co-ordinator for Tuungane Youth Community based organization between 2009 and 2010 and board member for Lurambi Constituency Uwezo Fund between 2014 and 2017.
I was a field officer at Lurambi Constituency Office under the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) between 2016 and 2017, a youth representative at Kakamega County Youth Committee (2015-2017), Executive Director for the Youth Leaders Stakeholders (2016-2021) and finally as a relationship officer at Fourth Generation Capital Limited (4G Capital Ltd) Western Region between 2021 and 2022.
How did you find yourself in politics?
Immediately after campus, I became a youth advocate. I have used various platforms to raise the voices of young men and women on issues that concern them. In 2016, I eventually started a youth-friendly organization ‘Youth Leaders Stakeholders’ which I used to champion the enactment of policies by those in power that favour the youth. I also championed the Kakamega County Children’s Policy and gender violence Act. This is what introduced me to politics. While on campus, I was a leader in one area or the other. My heart was in politics more than in the corporate world, and when an opportunity knocked at my door, I took it.
Who mentored you into politics?
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I have always been inspired by women who joined active politics and made an impact in their communities. The likes of Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo who was at one time a nominated MP but is now elected. Governors Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) are women of steel and I admire their style of leadership. Someone like Millie is zealous in her moves politically and fearless.
What are some of the challenges have you encountered in your political journey?
In 2013, I vied for the Shirere Ward seat but unfortunately lost due to tribal politics since I am a Maragoli. My opponents told voters not to elect a stranger. They used to say I was just a girl and that I would get married and forget about the people of Shirere. That’s how I lost in the elections. Some also dismissed me because of my gender. They believe that women aren’t good leaders.
Why did you sue DAP-K, the party that sponsored you to join the County Assembly of Kakamega?
There is a lot of politics and interest in party nominations, I had to sue my party because they had shortchanged me. I had sacrificed a lot for the party during campaigns and it was unfair for the party to shortchange me and give the slot to a candidate who didn’t deserve it. This prompted me to fight for my space. I could not let the seat go easily. I consulted widely before moving to court to challenge the party's decision.
How was the matter expedited?
Despite the discouragement by many that I would lose the case, I didn’t give up. I won the case, however, the decision by the lower court was appealed but the High Court stayed the ruling by the lower court. That’s how I got my nomination. It was so unfair for my party to appeal even after the court gave back my seat. That was ‘robbery without violence’.
Do you think special elected members, more so women, face a lot of challenges in the line of their work?
Besides being discriminated against; our patriarchal society also limits women from vying for political positions and must stop. For the few months I have been in the assembly, I have fought serious battles and as a result, I have picked up a lot of courage along the way.
What is your message to young leaders who are looking up to you as their role model?
To follow their hearts’ desires and fight for what is rightfully theirs. God is a promise keeper and will always fulfill the desires of your heart no matter the challenges that you may encounter along the way.
Where do you see yourself in politics in the next five years?
Come 2027, the current MCA for Shirere should go for another seat like MP or I take him on early retirement. The time will be ripe for me to represent the residents of Shirere ward. I am also eyeing the position of MP, senator, and governor in the future.