Two women join male-packed Kisii governor race
What you need to know:
- For the first time, two women have shown interest in the 2022 Kisii County governorship race that has also attracted nine male contenders.
- Gusii region, which comprises Kisii and Nyamira counties, are deeply patriarchal and apart from nominations and seats reserved for female candidates, women have only managed to clinch a few county assembly seats.
Two women have, for the first time, shown interest in the 2022 Kisii County governorship race that has also attracted nine male contenders.
The trajectory is sending political shock waves given that since the position was created through the 2010 Constitution, no woman has ever vied for it.
Woman Representative Janet Ong’era, declared her interest last month.
Activist Rachel Otundo had also declared her interest earlier.
Ms Ong’era announced her bid at a function to commission the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) office at Nyamataro in Kitutu Chache South Constituency, in the presence of the county Senator Prof Sam Ongeri.
“Ongeri and I want the seat of governor. I will agree with him to support me,” Ms Ong’era said.
Before becoming the Kisii Woman Rep, Ms Ong’era served as a nominated senator. In the past, women from Gusii have shunned elective seats, save for the woman representative position.
Teresa Bitutu’s good performance in the recent Bonchari by-election, however, proved that women are gaining a foothold in the political matrix of the region. Ms Bitutu of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) came third with 6, 964 votes.
Gusii region, which comprises Kisii and Nyamira counties, are deeply patriarchal and apart from nominations and seats reserved for female candidates, women have only managed to clinch a few county assembly seats.
There are only two elected female MCAs in the entire Gusii region. Callen Atuya of Bokeira Ward in Nyamira County, who beat 11 men in the 2017 election and Rosa Kemunto Orondo of Majoge Basi Ward in Kisii County.
Ms Ong’era and Ms Otundo are joining the governorship race that is already shaping into clanism and party affiliation.
As things stand, Ms Ong’era will first face Prof Ongeri and Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati in the ODM nominations.
Mr Arati who hails from Bobasi Constituency, has been traversing the county in the last few weeks.
The re-entry of Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure, also from Bobasi-Bassi Chache in the gubernatorial race, however, makes it tougher for Mr Arati and Ms Ong’era.
The former Senator would likely dim the Dagoretti MP’s chances just like the touted candidature of Ms Ongera, an accomplished grassroots mobiliser from Bobasi Constituency.
Prof Ongeri comes from the Nyaribari clan, which has three other aspirants -Charles Matoke and Ezekiel Machogu.
Nyaribari has a combined voter population of around 136,000 votes.
Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi has been hoping to inherit the governor’s seat through his boss James Ongwae’s support base. He has been marketing UDA in the region. Importantly, he happens to be the only one from the larger Bomachoge clan, who has announced his candidature for governorship.
Former South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya is also eyeing the Kisii governorship seat.
“Kisii County needs a manager. I promise to ensure prudent use of public resources and to ensure development,” said Mr Nyamweya who is currently the Kenya National Congress party leader.
He comes from the same clan (Bogirango) with Mr Magara, also a former MP for South Mugirango.
“It is time for us to lead the county. We have supported others for too long,” said Mr Nyamweya.
He is banking on an emerging Gucha versus Kisii Central factor where leaders from Gucha led by Nyamweya, Maangi and Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, have been rallying voters in Kisii to elect a governor from Gucha region since the outgoing governor comes from Kisii Central.
On his part, Mr Magara believes he is the best candidate for the seat. But the fact that Magara and Nyamweya come from a rather small clan with around 60,000 votes may work against them because it may split votes in their stronghold.
Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka is in the race too, hoping to use his experience in politics and a 15-year track record as a lawmaker to woo voters. His only undoing would be his Bogetutu clan where Governor Ongwae hails from.
He is the only one from Bogetutu clan with 106,000 votes who has declared interest in the seat.