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Will affirmative action favour Anne Waiguru in UDA?

By Wainaina Ndung'u | Apr 21st 2022 | 3 min read

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru when she attended the ANC National Delegates Conference at Bomas of Kenya. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Anne Mumbi Waiguru, the Kirinyaga Governor has for long been touted as one of the most suitable running mates for the front runners in the presidential race.

Waiguru, who cut her teeth as a technocrat and made a lucky break when she was appointed Devolution Cabinet Secretary in 2013, has been associated with the number two position even under the now collapsed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) line-up.

Born in 1971, the daughter of a policeman was seen as a perfect number two and one who could kill two birds with one stone.

One, she would take care of the substantial interests of vote-rich Mt Kenya in the national political matrix and she could be counted on to harness the women vote nationally.

Ms Waiguru like Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua has gained invaluable political experience as CS and Kirinyaga governor.

She has more than any other governor been wooed by the two dominant political camps and made headlines every time she has jumped ship perhaps underscoring the political might she is seen as packing.

Ms Waiguru was among the first crop of female governors alongside the late Bomet governor Joyce Laboso and Kitui's Charity Ngilu in 2017 but that was just as she was making her political debut unlike the other two.

It's now almost five years since the Kirinyaga governor made her break into elective politics. Whether she would make a good running mate for the UDA presidential hopeful William Ruto is the big question.

Worthy fighter

Though she is from Mt Kenya, she represents one of the smallest counties with just four constituencies and 378,580 registered voters.

That would compare dismally with the home counties of her perceived competitors from Mt Kenya.

Rigathi Gachagua's Nyeri county has 492,046 voters, Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Alice Wahome (Kandara) home turf of Murang'a has 628,416 voters.

The more populous Kiambu county with 1,293,309 voters is the home turf of the likes of former governor William Kabogo, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, all mentioned as possible running mates of the UDA presidential candidate.

The registered voters in Ms Waiguru's home county compares better with Mwangi Kiunjuri's Laikipia with 265,842 voters or Prof Kithure Kindiki's Tharaka Nithi with 234,618 voters assuming that those are the first direct votes a running mate would guarantee to the basket of their principal.

The governor's short political career has proved her a worthy fighter in politics and her flip-flopping between the two main camps prior to the aborting of BBI and after has shown she has the political mettle to make tough but timely decisions.

But she has faced major storms while running Kirinyaga including a long drawn row with medics and fight for the control of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) land in Mwea.

She is credited with establishing a tightly controlled administration in Kirinyaga where even County Executive Committee (CEC) members are on a short leash.

Her troubles with government agencies including the  Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) has given her good political exposure that can come in handy in the tough waters of the presidency captained by a supposedly abrasive principal.

Political commentator and former Cabinet Minister, Prof Amukowa Anangwe says the question of chemistry between the presidential ticket pair cannot be predicted citing the Uhuru and Ruto experience.

"In my view, with or without the whole slate of running mates from the region, Ruto would still get his votes," he says, adding that the DP has largely worked his way into the heart of this region and denying it the number two position will hardly affect his votes.

"Waiguru, Gachagua, Nyoro and Kindiki have hardly any experience at running the top echelons of government yet we are talking about a person who will be a heartbeat away from the presidency. A person who can step in and seamlessly run government in the event of, God forbid, the president's absence."

But he admits that Ms Waiguru has some advantage over the competition as the Constitution places a high premium on affirmative action. 

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