Four Meru MCAs who beat the odds to be nominated three times

Secondina Kanini

Secondina Kanini takes oath of office in May 2019 after she was nominated to the second Meru Assembly by Kenya Patriots Party (KPP).

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

The nomination of members to legislative assemblies is a hot contest that sometimes leads to court cases and protests within political parties.

But in Meru, four female MCAs have been three times lucky, making it to the coveted list of nominees for the third consecutive term.

Some 24 people, including four representing marginalised groups and 20 on the gender top-up list, were nominated to the Meru County Assembly, making a total of 69 MCAs.

Ruth Kananu, Dorsen Kagwiria, Gacheri Muthuri and Secondina Kanini have been in the assembly since 2013 under different political parties.

Ms Kanini was nominated to the second assembly by the Kenya Patriots Party in 2019 after Lucy Waithera resigned.

Her nomination was so controversial that it led to a court dispute and a fistfight in the assembly chambers during her swearing-in. Some MCAs claimed the nomination did not follow the proper procedure.

Four other women – Salome Kirito, Grace Kambura, Sarah Gakii and Lucy Makena – have also made it back for the second time.

Ms Kananu, Ms Kanini and Ms Kirito have been outspoken defenders of former Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi.

But Ms Kambura and Ms Gakii decamped from their former parties and became lead campaigners for the Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) and the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), respectively.

Political parties were required to provide party nomination lists to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), including those to fill special categories and gender gaps in the legislature.

Gacheri Muthuri

Gacheri Muthuri, a nominated MCA in Meru during a past assembly session. 

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

The nominees are required to be qualified for election to the House they are nominated to.

Party loyalty and contribution during campaigns are key considerations on who makes it to the final list, said former Meru assembly majority leader Victor Karithi.

Ms Kananu, who was first nominated to the Meru assembly by the Kenya National Congress Party (KNC) in 2013, said those who made it back to the assembly represent different political parties.

She was nominated to the third assembly by DEP.

“Political parties are very keen on the contribution of members. I have been very aggressive defending and selling my political party’s agenda,” she said. 

“You have to be smart and fight vigorously for your political party. I am also actively involved in community work by using my salary to help the needy.”

The Maendeleo Chap Chap party’s election and nomination rules of 2017 say: “Only persons with demonstrable active contribution to the party shall qualify to be in the party list.”

Mr Benson Kiriinya, who was nominated as a youth representative in the Meru assembly, said the nomination process was fair.

“Those interested had to apply to the political party, and the IEBC vets the nominees to ensure they qualify.

However, to appear at the top of the list, you must have done well in the political party,” Mr Kiriinya said.

One MCA nominated for the third time in a row said she did not want to comment on the matter, saying it is too controversial.

The Meru assembly will have its first sitting on Wednesday next week.