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Why Murang'a elected women leaders cannot see eye to eye

Women leaders Betty Maina, Sabina Chege, Veronica Maina and Mary Wamaua.

The Monday incident where supporters of Murang'a women elected leaders descended on each other with fist-fights, kicks and blows laid bare the hatred between the leaders.

The event, Kigumo Basket Weavers Expo and fundraiser held at Kigumo Bendera High School grounds in Kigumo Constituency, had been organised by Nominated Senator Veronica Maina and had been attended by High Commissioners, including Head of UN Women Anna Mutavati, Chinese Embassy delegation and three Cabinet Secretaries Simon Chelugui (Cooperative and MSMES), Alice Wahome (Lands) and Aisha Jumwa (Gender and Culture).

Women leaders including Betty Maina (Woman Representative), Mary Waithira Wamaua (Maragua), Sabina Chege (Nominated) and Lands Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome were the main actors while the male elected leaders including the host MP, Joseph Munyoro, kept off the event.

Unknown to members of the public, who included senior citizens, the drama they were witnessing had been planned without their knowledge and were only spectating the implementation of the supremacy battle of the leaders they had woken up early to put in their respective seats.

The bad blood between the women leaders started January last year during the Kandara by election on September 2022 when Bettie Maina, Veronica Maina and Mp- Wamaua ganged up against the Cabinet Secretary over claims that she was not supporting the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate Chege Njuguna and instead accusing her of supporting Ford Asili's Titus Njau Mbuchu in the race to succeed her.

The trio’s campaign bore fruits after Njuguna retained the UDA’s flag and garnered 21650 votes against Mbuchu who got 14678 in a hotly contested race.

The political rivalry went deeper after the Muranga water wars when MP Wamaua accused Wahome of blocking the transfer of Muranga South Water and Sanitation Company, a water utility that distributes water to her Constituency, Kigumo, Kandara and some parts of Gatanga with Wamaua accusing the company of lack of capacity to distribute water to her electorate.

At the heart of disagreement was the who between the two water service providers would manage the Sh800 million Maragua dam with Wamaua maintaining that Muwasco should manage it but Cs Wahome differing and maintaining that the dam was lobbied by MUSWACO through sourcing for loans and that it would be difficult for the asset to be transferred to MUWASCO without a proper agreement

The decision by President William Ruto to transfer Wahome from Water to Lands Ministry cooled the tension between the two leaders and eventually they settled their differences last month after the MP invited the CS for an event in her Constituency and vowed to end their differences to work for the electorate.

The Women Representative did not attend the function but in yet another event conducted by Senator Joe Nyutu and brought the three together, the Women Representative trashed the political reunion between the two saying she was not interested in the ‘unity of hypocrisy’.

The relationship between Wamaua and the Women Representative, Standard has learnt severed because of the supremacy battles between Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro with the Women Rep accusing Mp Wamaua of badmouthing Murnaga leaders to the Deputy President.

“She has been ‘borrowing’ tea in Karen using our issues and this is what I called as the unity of hypocrisy, I was so close to the Deputy President but at some point, I lost contacts to him (Gachagua) and I later learnt it was because of the MP who I considered my friend, she is also the reason of the bad blood between Gachagua and Nyoro,” Mp Maina told The Standard.

She accused Wamaua and other women leaders of undermining her due to her youthfulness and pushing her to the corner by ‘forcing me to operate using their manual book’.

She further claimed she differed with the MP after she mobilized women to claim the existence of Mungiki sect in support of Gachagua’s war against the emergence of the illegal sect, a move that aggravated their differences.

“She (Wamaua) mobilized women leaders to claim the existence of the Mungiki sect, I was of the view that youth should not be branded Mungiki as the blanket condemnation could target our generation,” she told The Standard on phone.

However, Wamaua, in a separate phone interview, accused the Women Representative of undermining her fellow women leaders who are more senior than her.

“Ignorance has no defense in law, she should consult the constitution and understand her mandate better, she should focus on serving the people as opposed to engaging in fights over claims that she is being forced to support certain political factions. The constitution stipulates freedom of association but there is no market that lacks a mad person,” she said.

She continued ‘one-person can’t hold other leaders back just like a rotten potato in a sack that is removed to ensure that it does not destroy the whole sack, we shall soldier on with our unity and ignore her.”

Before spilling over to the public, there has been a push and pull in the leaders’ WhatsApp forum Representative bringing together the elected leaders and senior government officials from Muranga where harsh exchange of words has been the order of the day.

Leaders such as CS Wahome have been removed from the group while the rivalry between the Nominated Senator and Kigumo Mp led to the Nominated Senator being removed from the group. Following the Kigumo incident, Maragua MP has also left the forum where leaders deliberate on various issues about Muranga County.

Political pundits from Muranga have warned that the continued rivalry between the women leaders will amount to a trust deficit on women leadership with Kenric Maina urging the leaders to set aside their differences and focus on their mission of serving the electorate.

“The women leaders are preoccupied with angling for 2027 and 2032 positions such as governorship and Women Representative while others are outshining each other to attract the ear of the Deputy President and even Nyoro. Muranga being a chauvinistic county which was slowly and gradually changing, the continued fights will disadvantage women in 2027,” Maina noted.

 Charles Njoroge, a political analyst said the women leaders’ public fight was a let down to the faith accorded to women leadership by the electorate and observed supported Maina’s views that the move may discredit the women leadership.

“That men gave the event a wide berth showed that they knew it had been planned, women are the first role models of the younger generation and incident calls for all those involved to go for a self-introspection and review what they want the society to remember them for,” he said.

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