Ruto is on right track of mentoring new crop of young political leaders

Wisley Rotich

Nyandarua Senator John Methu (left), Woman Reps Njeri Maina (Kirinyaga), Linet Chepkorir (Bomet), Muthoni Marubu of  Lamu (right) and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

One of the issues that appears to be close to the heart of President William Ruto as his Kenya Kwanza administration gets down to work is the need and importance of political mentorship.

In his address in Nairobi to the first caucus of the coalition’s freshly elected leaders on August 17, the then-President-elect singled out mentorship of the new younger leaders, particularly those elected to both Houses of Parliament.

Dr Ruto was categorical that, together with his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, party leaders and other officials in the coalition, the leadership will be intentional in mentoring the younger politicians to make successful leaders out of them. In addition, doing so would mean growth of solid leadership when the older ones leave the political space, particularly within Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

The success of any leadership, he reasoned, is in mentorship of the youth into better leaders. Pointing out that the coalition’s leadership believes in that principle of leadership, he told the grouping: “My deputy and I have agreed that when our time to leave comes, we will [have mentored] other people into better leaders to make sure we have proper transition in our Kenya Kwanza formation.”

Mentorship

He added: “We undertake that we will do that for the people, the leaders in our Kenya Kwanza formation alongside the other leaders [who joined the alliance after elections].”

It is a message that President Ruto would repeat and dwell on at length at the Kenya Kwanza parliamentary group’s two-day working meeting in Naivasha last week. This is an indication that his leadership is serious about the mentorship of the youth for better leadership and governance.

There is room for progress in as far as election of more young people, particularly to Parliament and county assemblies, is concerned. However, the August 9 general election brought with it an unprecedented number of elected politicians within the age 35 youth bracket and a bigger number below 40.

They include 24-year-old Bomet Woman Representative Linet Chepkorir “Toto’’, her Kirinyaga and Lamu colleagues, respectively, Njeri Maina, 28, and Muthoni Marubu, 30, and Nyandarua Senator John Methu, 31, and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wesly Rotich, 34.

Mentorship of the country’s younger leaders is the way to go for the nation’s future and stability. It is more sound when the nation’s top leadership undertake to make it part of the agenda and focus. In a country where gender balance—representation of women, in particular—is still wanting, mentorship of younger women politicians is an excellent way of not only attracting more of them to the space but also sustain the numbers and grow many others to positions of leadership.

Women leaders

Quite a few women leaders in the current structure have indicated that mentorship saw them rise to their positions. They include Governor Cecily Mbarire, the youthful first female Embu County boss who first joined the National Assembly as a nominated MP after serving as a university student leader. The former Runyenyes MP has in the past singled out veteran politician and trailblazer Phoebe Asiyo and former Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu as among her political mentors.

With the big number of younger female politicians in the country in Parliament and at the county assemblies and governments, including nominated ones, it is fundamental that the older ones, particularly, as well as women’s rights organisations and related interest groups, give much attention to mentorship of younger women political leaders.

Notably, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa), which draws its membership from women legislators from the National Assembly and the Senate, runs a leadership and mentorship programme that includes a peer mentorship with older female politicians guiding the younger ones.

The programme is a great way to start off the 13th Parliament with its unprecedented numbers of young women. It will come in handy as a vehicle to carry out the crucial mission.

Ms Rugene, a consulting editor, is the founder of the Woman’s Newsroom Foundation. [email protected]

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