Only one woman elected in Taita Taveta mixed-gender races

Taita Taveta County Assembly in Wundanyi. Only one woman has been elected to the assembly.

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ms Mlughu, a journalist, was making her second attempt after she was trounced in 2017; she said she will not let residents down.
  • After the 2017 polls, the government appointed her to the board of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute where she served until December 2021.

Despite 26 women trying their luck in ward representative races in Taita Taveta County, only one candidate secured victory in the August 9, 2022 General Election.

Ms Dorcas Mlughu beat male dominance to win the Member of the County Assembly (MCA) seat in Rong’e. She got a resounding victory after flooring the incumbent, Mr Harris Keke, who was also the assembly's Majority leader and among the most influential MCAs.

Ms Mlughu, a journalist, was making her second attempt after she was trounced by Mr Keke in 2017. She had worked for Anguo FM, a radio station in Taita Taveta, and moved to Bahari FM of Royal Media Services before she left in 2016.

After vying for the seat in 2017, the Jubilee government appointed her to the board member of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, where she served as a member until December 2021.

Upon taking the oath of office in September, Ms Mlughu will be the only woman elected MCA in the County Assembly. "Women leaders should be supported and viewed like any other leaders who can offer leadership. During my campaigns, I assured residents that I'm capable just like my male competitors."


She said she will not let residents down. "I faced so many challenges, including attacks by my competitors on my marital status. They told me I was not married and have no children so I did not deserve to lead."

She told the electorate that leaders should not be judged by such beliefs, thus winning their hearts. "I told them everything happens at its right time. Again, I sensitised them that the Constitution did not state marital status as one of the requirements for one to contest for an elective seat."

She said she will not be intimidated by her male counterparts, who, in previous assemblies, had taken over all leadership roles in the House. "Women should not wait to be given roles. They should fight for them and deliver when they are called to serve."

The House is set to convene for the first time after the swearing-in of Governor-elect Andrew Mwadime. According to the County Government Act, whenever a new county assembly is elected, the governor, by notice in the Kenya Gazette and the County Gazette, shall appoint the place and date of the first sitting of the new assembly within 30 days after the election.

Also, the MCAs, both elected and nominated, should be gazetted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission within 21 days after the election.

Ms Mlughu called on the governor-elect to appoint more women to the county executive.

The election also saw Woman Representative Lydia Haika retain her position, which is constitutionally reserved for female contenders.

Gender rule

Meanwhile, the county assembly is now staring at a huge wage bill that will be occasioned by the realisation of the two-thirds gender rule. Ten female MCAs will have to be nominated to meet the gender requirement.

In 2017, a similar cases played out as only one female MCA was elected. Ten others were nominated to bridge the gender rule. However, the female representative, Beatrice Mwabili, succumbed to cancer in 2020 and was replaced by a male MCA in a by-election.

In 2013, no female MCA was elected, leading to the nomination of female MCAs to meet the gender gap. Despite nearly half of registered voters in Taita Taveta being women, communities remain patriarchal.

Sauti ya Wanawake official Makrina Mwamburi said more women ran for office in the just-concluded election than in the previous ones. "In this election, several female candidates had contested, but the male contenders won a majority of the seats. As a society, we have a long way to go because men don't want to support women who vie for these seats," she said.

Some 39 female candidates out of the 270 contenders vied for elective seats in the county. For the gubernatorial seat, two women raced against 11 male candidates, while for the Senate position, only one female contested.

For the MP seats in Mwatate, Voi and Taveta, only three female candidates vied. Wundanyi constituency did not field a female candidate. Those who contested are Dr Naomi Shaban, who was defending her seat in Taveta, former Deputy Governor Majala Mlaghui (Mwatate) and retired teacher Veronicah Marami (Voi). All three candidates lost to their male competitors.