Former woman rep promises battle royal in Kipipiri race

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EALA member Wanjiku Muhia who wants to be the next Kipipiri Constituency MP.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • EALA member Wanjiku Muhia says her manifesto will transform Kipipiri residents' lives.
  • In 2013, she vied and won the Nyandarua County woman representative seat.
  • She says her passion for education will see her construct new classrooms and revamp technical training institutions.


Kipipiri Member of Parliament seat might scare off some aspirants when the names of contestants in this year’s general election are mentioned. But not so for Wanjiku Muhia, who is promising to put up a fight of her life to win.

While the current MP, National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya, is one of the nine men eyeing the position, this does not bother Ms Muhia, the only female contender.

“I feel I have what it takes to win this seat,” she says.

She is a member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). She says her manifesto, which outlines her priority areas, will transform the residents' lives.

Her areas of focus include a radical approach to economic empowerment. “I plan to make a lasting impact on the constituency by introducing a model where all Constituency Development Fund (CDF) tenders go to villagers so that they are economically empowered.”

On farming, she plans to partner with the government, NGOs and corporate organisations to introduce farmers to high-value crops such as pyrethrum. This will help communities diversify their livelihoods.

Education plan

She says her passion for education will see her construct new classrooms and revamp technical training institutions. “Most of these institutions are wasting away while young people compete for limited training opportunities in Nyahururu and Nakuru.”

Electricity and road connectivity are also at the top of her agenda. She notes that a significant percentage of the constituency is yet to access this important commodity, adding that better roads will enhance connectivity to local and regional markets.

Renowned for her political slogan Wanjiku4Wanjiku, the aspirant is not new in the political arena. In 2013, she vied and won the Nyandarua County woman representative seat.

As a woman rep, she is remembered for successfully pushing for an amendment to the Persons with Disability Act. This amendment is credited for the inclusion of sign language on TV news bulletins. She says this was to ensure  deaf persons have improved access to information as outlined in the Bill of Rights.

She has sponsored a similar bill at EALA and hopes that once enacted, all television stations in the region will  include sign language in their news bulletins.

Ms Muhia was also instrumental in the lifting of a government directive that had outlawed the fitting of cargo carriers on all public service vehicles, a move she says endeared her to the electorate. 

Affirmative Action

As woman representative, she was one of those instrumental in the establishment of the Affirmative Action Social Development Fund, which has revolutionised the roles and contribution of county MPs.

“This fund has enabled the county MPs who do not have any funding structure to initiate development activities in their respective counties.”

A holder of a Master’s in Business Administration, Ms Muhia prides herself on empowering women through self-help groups, and training them in income generation.

“I partnered with Equity Bank and trained scores of women in entrepreneurial skills, majority of whom are now  running their own businesses.”

The legislator is also credited with initiating a cancer centre in Kipipiri. “This centre stalled after I lost my seat in 2017, but the electorate know I financed the project singlehandedly using a loan I had acquired from the bank. If elected, I will complete it to serve the community.”

For her, the 2017 nomination, which she believes she won, stalled many of her plans.  She regrets that even after the Political Party Tribunal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal said the nomination should be repeated, this did not happen as her party said it did not have money to conduct a repeat primary. It opted to interview candidates, a process Muhia gave a wide berth. Her consolation was nomination to the EALA where she is a member.

Flower sector

Prior to joining politics, Ms Muhia worked at several flower firms in Naivasha, where she rose through the ranks to become human resources manager. She is credited for bringing several social changes to the flower industry, among them the creation of a daycare centre for breastfeeding mothers, a Sacco and medical cover for workers.

She later joined Equity Bank, where she worked for six years before resigning to join politics. She says working with different people in these positions sharpened her leadership skills.

Ms Muhia will be contesting on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket and is confident that she will garner landslide victory in the August poll.

“UDA party’s manifesto is development-conscious and focuses on a bottom-up approach, which is what I have been selling to the electorate.”

If elected, she plans to operate an open-door policy and incorporate the views of all her constituents.

Intimidation

But just like other women candidates, she has suffered maligning of her character by her opponents in an effort to intimidate her.

“I have refused to be scared by my opponents. For verbal violence, which women aspirants get in abundance, my thick skin has done the trick. Instead, I have focused my energies to winning the poll.”

In the past couple of months, her opponents have tried all tricks to dim her visibility. Two months after she launched her bid, her billboard that was placed at a very convenient place in a market was stolen. She put another one. Again, it was stolen. “Up to this moment, I have not put a billboard again. This may not be verbal or outspoken harassment, but that is money lost. Each bill board had cost me Sh50,000.”

Knowing that her competitors would want to use every opportunity to cause violence or intimidate her, Ms Muhia makes sure her meetings end by 6pm. “This may seem like a disadvantage seeing that men go on campaigning way into the night, but the idea is to concentrate on what works for you,” she says. “The strategy can protect you from physical violence.”

She feels the political environment is still harsh for women, but they should not give up.

“Ignore the negative energy, focus, move, purpose to where they are headed. Distractors will always be there. If you are married let them not ask about your husband, if you are not married they will not marry you and therefore, do not let them weigh you down with domestic issues.”

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