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'Assertive' former deputy governor poised to succeed Balala in Tourism

Former Kitui Deputy Governor Peninah Malonza. [File, Standard[

Former Kitui Deputy Governor Peninah Malonza, who has been picked by President William Ruto to take charge of the Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage docket, has been described as a no-nonsense woman.

She stood her ground and fought off alleged mistreatment by her political detractors. She fell out with her boss, Dr Julius Malombe in the run-up to the 2017 elections.

Her differences with Malombe escalated to a point where she took up an offer to be former Senator David Musila’s running mate in the Kitui governor race, which was won by Charity Ngilu.

She henceforth maintained a low profile in politics after 2017 only to reemerge in the run-up to the 2022 elections to campaign for Ruto and Kenya Kwanza. Her appointment to Ruto’s Cabinet is a reward that came as a surprise to many.

“Her appointment was a surprise. Although she was among the politicians who helped to push forward the ‘Hustler Nation’ agenda in Kitui, her involvement did not pass to many as a compelling justification for such an appointment. Nevertheless, we thank the President for considering her and the Ukambani region,” said Janet Musangi, a resident of Kitui South.

Ms Musangi described Malonza as ‘a strong woman’ who is not easily derailed by naysayers.

“She is a superwoman, to say the least. She is not a person to be dragged back and forth. Once she sets her eyes on the target, she never relents until it is done,” she said.

Should Parliament approve her nomination, Ms Malonza will go down in history as the first minister to be appointed from the Kitui South region.

Prior to joining politics, Ms Malonza served as a senior executive of Compassion International, an NGO which works for children’s welfare. Outgoing Tourism CS Najib Balala congratulated Ms Malonza, pledging to support her. “I welcome the appointment of Peninah Malonza as the new CS for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage. You have my faithful support. God bless Kenya,” Balala said in a tweet.