Jayne Kihara bounces back in Naivasha parliamentary race

Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara speaks to the media moments after she was declared the winner of the parliamentary race on August, 10, 2022

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group

She survived a scare during the hotly contested United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party primaries in April.

Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara had lost to her political nemesis John Kihagi, who garnered 10,394 votes against her 9,991.

But she has bounced back to retain her seat, garnering 44,882 votes, again beating her closest challenger, Mr Kihagi, who received 24,891.

Riding on luck, she successfully appealed to the UDA dispute committee and was handed back the party ticket, clearing the way for her to defend her seat.

Having survived the onslaught, Ms Kihara hit the ground running. She started by reorganising her campaign secretariat.

The team was largely blamed for the near loss, with the UDA flag-bearer personally taking charge of her campaigns.

She also changed her campaign strategy, putting all her energy in the areas where she had always lagged behind in her 15-year political sojourn.

Previously known for her high-profile campaigns, Ms Kihara opted for door-to-door campaigns, throwing her dismissive opponents into a political spin.

Her detractors accused UDA of shortchanging Mr Kihagi, a trump card that they wanted to use to discredit Ms Kihara's candidacy.

"I was never favoured by the party ... I had won the seat fair and square," she said.

And having retained her seat overwhelmingly, the third-time MP has been vindicated.

"Those who had written me off have been proved wrong by the electorate. It is a strong political statement having beaten my nearest challenger by an almost 20,000-vote margin,” she said.

Interestingly, she received more votes in areas where she has traditionally lost to opponents, putting her in a better position beat to her challengers.

Ms Kihara has a chequered political career. She was first elected to Parliament in 2003, soon after the death of her husband, Paul Kihara, but lost the seat in 2007 to John Mututho.

In 2013, she vied for the Senate seat but did not make much of an impact. She then decided to vie for the Naivasha seat in 2017, winning with a landslide. Now she has made it to the House for the third time despite facing stiff competition from her younger contestants.

Others who contested the seat included Ndegwa Nguthiru (Jubilee), who received 18,321 votes; Anthony Rebo Ngure (ODM), 8,295; Raymond Muiruri, 824; John Muita, 429; Francis Ireri, 258; Anne Wanjiru, 267; Macharia Mwaniki, 257; James Kinyua, 209.