Taveta MP Naomi Shaban; will she be fifth time lucky?

Taveta MP Naomi Shaban during her swearing in as MP on February 28, 2018. She is eyeing the same seat in the August 9, poll.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Taveta MP Naomi Namsi Shaban was on May 29, cleared by the IEBC to run for the seat for an uninterrupted fifth term.

  • She made history as the longest-serving female legislator and the only female MP to be re-elected for four consecutive terms.

Taveta MP Naomi Namsi Shaban is a gem, on any given day, when she takes to the floor in Parliament to contribute in a debate.

The dental surgeon was on May 29, cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to run for the seat for an uninterrupted fifth term.

Dr Shaban has made history as the longest-serving female legislator and the only female MP to be re-elected for four consecutive terms, competing with the likes of Deputy President William Ruto and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, who have never lost in any election for more than two decades.

She first vied for the seat in 2002.

As she received her clearance certificate to vie on a Jubilee ticket, she remained optimistic she will win the seat in the August 9 poll, saying her constituents have built trust in her due to her accomplishment in the past 20 years.

Democratic space

“My achievements speak volumes and I don’t think Taveta people will risk voting for another person. But we are in a democratic space. Anyone is welcome to challenge me, but I know I will emerge winner in the August 9, General Election,” said a confident Dr Shaban.

The incumbent will be contesting for the August poll in a field dominated by men where she will be battling it out with her close rivals John Bwire (Wiper Democratic Party), Didas Mzirai (United Democratic Alliance UDA), Morris Mutiso (ODM) and Kangethe Muutu (Independent).

The MP has defied patriarchal structures of culture and tradition. She first ventured into politics when a by-election was called in a Taita Taveta Constituency following the resignation of Basil Criticos.

Empower women

She was elected on a Kenya Africa National Union (Kanu) ticket to become the first elected female MP in Taita Taveta.

“When I was elected, I met seven female MPs in the House and our voices could not be heard. I was the only elected MP in our party while the others were nominated. We started the Women Parliamentary Caucus, which we are proud to say has made strides to empower women until today,” said Dr Shaban during an interview with Nation.Africa.

While serving her first term, she became Kenya's Branch Representative of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association from 2003 to 2007.

Since then, the legislator has been unstoppable and seems to be enjoying her political life, making strides and building trust among other politicians.

In the 2007 General Election, she sought re-election and was successful. Former President the late Mwai Kibaki appointed her as the Minister for Special Programmes until 2010, when she was transferred to the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, a position she held until 2013.

Having worked with President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Kanu regime, she ditched Kanu and joined The National Alliance (TNA) to seek her third term in office.

Constitution

She was victorious and overcame stiff competition from ODM, emerging as the only TNA politician in the county.

In that election, Taita Taveta’s Governor, Senator, Woman Representative and four of the five MPs, were elected on an ODM ticket.

Dr Shaban acknowledges working in a male-dominated environment in parliament has been tough but the struggle of increasing women representatives was boosted by the current Constitution which has seen the number of women representatives increase.

“There has been a question on whether to scrap the position of County Woman Representative or not. But my position remains let it be. The problem is that Kenyans are not electing the right woman representatives but we have seen some making political landmarks using the position,” said Dr Shaban.

“It is unfortunate that out of 47 women representatives who were elected in 2013, only 15 retained their seats and two, Mishi Mboko and Aisha Jumwa, elected as MPs. Those re-elected have shown the position can bring change, with the latest being Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, who is going for governor’s position; it gives hope to women,” she added.

Dr Shaban has mastered the art of following a political wave to remain relevant in the political scene.

In the 2017 General Election, Dr Shaban moved to Jubilee where she was re-elected for a record fourth term, in a highly controversial poll with her main opponent Morris Mutiso crying foul play. He sought for the results to be annulled on grounds of irregularities and illegalities. She, however, won the petition.

Deputy president

She is the vice-chair of the Parliamentary Service Commission, Deputy Leader of the Majority Party, and a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments, House Business Committee and Health Committee.

Asked whether she is contemplating going for any other seat in future, Dr Shaban remained optimistic that politics is dynamic and with the nomination of Martha Karua as Azimio la Umoja's Presidential running mate, nothing is impossible.

“I will do what Kenyans want, if they ask me to go for another position I will go as long as I am serving them and delivering on my agenda. If they ask me to go for the governor's position or even deputy president’s post, I won’t hesitate,” said Dr Naomi.

 







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