After conquering the corporate world, Tabitha Karanja, the founder and chief executive of Keroche Breweries Limited, has thrown her hat into the political ring.
A corporate titan, but a greenhorn in politics, Ms Karanja is set to face seasoned politicians in an epic battle to succeed vocal Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.
In what is promising to be an epic battle, the corporate guru has rolled her sleeves to fight it out with veteran politicians who include; one of the leading lights of Kenya's second liberation Koigi Wa Wamwere and former Naivasha Member of Parliament John Mututho.
Ms Karanja will vie for the seat using Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance party, Mr Mututho(Orange Democratic Movement Party) and Mr Wamwere- as an independent candidate.
Other contenders for the seat include; former industrialization chief administrative secretary Lawrence Karanja(Jubilee), Philanthropist Mike Weche (Amani National Congress), Daniel Kimani (Ford Kenya) and Thomas Mwangi(Independent).
Whereas Mr Wamwere and Mr Mututho bank on their experience and networks they have created over time in their lives in politics, Ms Karanja draws her strength from the support she enjoys from the UDA party and Senator Kihika who has not shied away from openly campaigning for her.
However, having come from the respectable corporate world, political pundits wonder if she could withstand the rigors of murky political waters where many a times the rule of the jungle reigns supreme.
“Despite being a battle- hardened business guru, Tabitha Karanja Keroche will definitely find the political world unfamiliar. Furthermore, she will square it out with seasoned politicians who understand the political world better than her. Ms Karanja will have to grow a thick skin required in politics,” said lawyer and political analyst Steve Kabita.
Mr Wamwere, who lost to Susan Kihika in 2017, has described himself as the best bet for the seat as he is keen on protecting the county’s resources from corrupt cartels.
‘With Koigi Wa Wamwere as Senator, Nakuru County funds will be safe from corruption and that money meant for development will not be returned to government. I will fight against stealing of public resources everywhere. I have enough experience to be the best Senator for Nakuru,” says Mr Wamwere.
Mr Mututho a shrewd political player,a former lawmaker and an architect of the famous Mutho law, says he wants to be in the Senate, to push for good governance, proper oversight and regulation of production and sale of alcohol.
In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Mututho said he is the best candidate for the Senatorial race based on his experience as a legislator, assistant cabinet minister and administrator.
“I have offered myself to contest because I believe we need renewed leadership in the Senate for Nakuru and Kenya as a whole. I want to protect the benefits of devolution,” he told the Nation.
Once elected, the former National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA)boss says he wants to provide proper representation, good governance and to help push for progressive legislations including those that will aid in fighting endemic corruption.
“Your senator must be a senator who can speak for you, defend you, debate questions of law and legislate for your benefit,” added Mr Mututho.
And yes, Mututho will still push forth his agenda driven by his passion to see a drug-free society.
“I want to be pro-life. If elected my first business in the Senate will be to introduce more legislations to regulate production and distribution of alcohol in the country. There is a huge need to safeguard the family unit that is quickly disintegrating due to alcohol abuse. We need proper laws that will protect the family. Laws that will regulate alcohol use, ensure people drink the right quality, quantity and at the right time,” the teetotaler explained to the Nation.
“I think the race for Nakuru Senate seat will be between John Mututho who is pro–life and others, some who are pro-alcohol,” he added.
Mututho also wants to introduce laws that will regulate use of genetically modified foods(GMOs) and use of unauthorized chemicals in agriculture.
“Kenya faces doom with continued consumption of GMOs, we need to protect our people from GMOs and harmful chemicals. I will introduce a law to ban harmful chemicals used in farming in my first day in the Senate,” said Mututho.
However, undeterred, the iron lady of the business world says she is the best for the Senate seat, based on her experience in the corporate world.
“Having had a successful journey in the corporate arena where I won so many accolades, I am ready to represent the people of Nakuru in the Senate. I want to influence policies from the front row, while at the Senate. I’ve been toying with the idea for years, but I’m now ready to go for it,” she said in an interview with the Nation.
"The time is ripe for me to introduce policies that will cushion and support fellow investors. I think I have new business ideas which can spur this country ahead economically,” she added.
Recently, during the UDA primaries she made a political statement after she beat her male competitors and emerged the winner garnering a whopping 98,439 votes, eclipsing other contestants, with Daniel Gichanga who got 12,240 votes coming a distant second.
The victory, definitely, sent a message of intent to her competitors in other parties as they face off during the August 9 polls.
Ms Karanja,who has been in the limelight having guided her Naivasha-based Keroche Breweries to become one of the top breweries in the county, recently changed her name to Tabitha Karanja Keroche.
In a sworn affidavit, Karanja said she’ll use the new name “for all purposes”.
Her new name was revealed via a Gazette Notice Number 4013 dated April 8, 2022.
Already, aspirants have started engaging allies in consultative meetings aimed at strategizing on how to roll out campaigns, once the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announces the campaigns period on May 29.
Political analyst Jesse Karanja says that a number of factors including; closeness to the people, individual manifestos and President Uhuru Kenyatta succession politics, will determine who becomes the next Senator.
"Currently, the front runners are Tabitha Karanja, John mututho, Lawyer Lawrence Karanja and Mr Koigi Wamwere. But as the clock ticks to August 9,we shall see how the race unfolds. A lot including the President Uhuru Kenyatta succession politics will play a major role," said Mr Karanja.