Sabina Chege: Ruto, Muturi are paying good with evil

Sabina Chege

Murang'a Woman Rep Sabina Chege at her Nairobi office on April 21, 2022

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Who is Sabina Chege?

I am a mother of three children, a go-getter, humble, God-fearing and a scholar pursuing a doctorate in communication at the University of Nairobi.

Why aren’t you defending your seat?

President Kenyatta requested me to serve at the national level. I have served for two terms as woman representative and it is time to give another person a chance. I have mentored one of my employees to go for the seat.

While addressing a rally in Kenol two years ago, you were overcome with emotion and openly wept. What happened?

I became emotional because our party was splitting and our people were being poisoned by negative vibes about the President. I asked the women: ‘Would any of you give birth to a child and not breastfeed? Do you leave your child to breastfeed a neighbour’s?’ That was what Mt Kenya was doing.

The same people who held on to the coats of the President to be elected in 2017 turned against him. It was betrayal of the highest order.  I broke down because I saw a generation that was being misled to hate their son who was their hero in 2007 and was even taken to The Hague.

Sabina Chege bows out of Murang'a gubernatorial race to focus on Azimio

How did President Kenyatta end up working with Ruto?

In 2017, the President came and said for us to heal, we needed to work with these people. We agreed. It is hurting when the same people turn against us. The community did not want the Deputy President but President Kenyatta told us to work with him. Now see what he has done. He came to the President’s bedroom and began abusing him.

The people President Kenyatta helped, even at a personal level, are now disrespecting him and saying he should go home. Look at (Murang’a Senator Irungu) Kang’ata. The President gave him money when his parents died and even attended his wedding in the village. I went to the church and found President Kenyatta seated. (Nominated MP) Isaac Mwaura even had a photo session with the President at State House during his wedding. See what they are doing.

Why didn’t you, like some Mt Kenya leaders, join the DP?

What would be the reason to leave Jubilee? I am not a follower. I am a leader. That is why I have stood firm in Jubilee. I chose not to be a coward. Some of us took the risk and it does not matter if we lose our seats. We will stand to be counted as the leaders who showed their people the right direction. Murang’a people elected me as their mother. When something bad happens at home, everybody runs to the mother for help. What happens when she leaves?

What was your point of departure with the DP?

President Kenyatta brought us together with Ruto. It is the DP who left us. I believed in Jubilee even when they said it was dead. I followed the President’s advice that we should work for the people first before politicking but the DP defied his boss.

It is hypocrisy when you say the party that led to your election is dead and not performing but when you go to rallies, you talk about the development record of the same party. You distance yourself from failures but take credit for success.

What happened between the President and his Deputy?

Something wrong happened. I may not be the right person to say it but when you see a person (the President) going to seek help from a person he deemed as his enemy (Mr Odinga), then just know that things were not right.

Is it true that the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) is strong in Mt Kenya?

It is true. For the last nine years, the DP has been coming to the region as our brother. We welcomed and embraced him. I was the first person who hosted the DP in Murang’a for thanksgiving.

How will Azimio and Raila perform Mt Kenya?

We are becoming stronger by the day. Our opinion polls show where we are not doing well. For now, Raila is at 30 per cent. In the next 90 days, he will be at 45 per cent. It is a journey I am ready to take. The Raila who has been demonised in our region will lead this country.

We want to remind our people that this is the same Raila they called Njamba and who campaigned for President Mwai Kibaki. Imagine if President Kenyatta was incapacitated and Ruto was the deputy.

The Raila issue only came in December 2021 so you can’t compare the work has been done for nine years and what has been done in only four months.

You will recall the President said he did not have a political contract with Raila but a peace deal. Circumstances forced the President to finally say: ‘this is the person I will support’ after he was  betrayed.

Jubilee was once a strong party conducting nominations across the country. It resorted to giving certificates in the boardroom. What has happened?

We learnt that our opponents were planning to infiltrate the polls and vote for weak candidates in order to have it all at the General Election. Through technology, we conducted opinion polls.

What do you think of Raila and the DP now that each stands a chance of succeeding President Kenyatta? 

Raila is experienced. Nothing excites him. He has gone through pain and suffering. His desire is to see what he fought for and believes in come to fruition. Raila is sincere,  composed and reliable. Kenyans will be safe in hands.

The DP is aggressive. We don’t know if he will decide to change the Constitution and stay in power forever. He is selfish and one sees bitterness in him. He is impatient. For him, it is either his way or the highway. He had a chance to grow and take over the next government but he was impatient. The DP needs time to mature. He is excited and surrounded by young people who are pushing him.

Dr Ruto has been saying he helped Mr Kenyatta win two elections. What is your take?

How many votes did he have? Only one. Even if he talks of his region, how many did he bring? What if President Kenyatta had taken Raila or (Wiper Party chief ) Kalonzo Musyoka? Perhaps they would have brought more votes. God will slow the DP down because he is not ready to lead the country.

In preparing to name a running mate, what lessons can Raila learn from Uhuru-Ruto fallout?

He should look at a person who compliments him, a team player and a selfless individual. He needs to look for a younger and friendlier person. Raila should get a person he can mentor politically, not one who imagines he or she is the president’s equal.

What is the role in the Azimio Council?

Our role is mainly advisory. We are working closely with the presidential candidate and the party chairman. If anything needs to be done, we are the last people to advise the candidate.

Kalonzo insists on being Raila’s running mate. Is he justified?

He is right. But nobody should hold the presidential candidate to ransom. He should wait to be given and not demand. You cannot force yourself into a position since others are also qualified. But we also need to look at what one brings to the table. It is not just the numbers or money, it is also about appeal to voters.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi backs the Deputy President. Will he be impartial when conducting parliamentary business?

The Speaker is making our work very difficult. Now that he has gone to the other side, he may frustrate us when debating priority bills. The side he is on wants to frustrate us and make the President look bad. It is a dishonour that he has paid good with evil. It is the President who pulled Muturi from the ashes after he lost the Siakago parliamentary seat. Now he is saying: “Maliza uende (finish your term and leave).” What goes around comes around. There is always payback time. I wish Muturi would have just remained a neutral arbiter and craft a coalition later.

Maybe he can step down and say he is not going to sit as Speaker and allow a non-partisan individual to chair the sessions. We still have a lot to do and wonder what will happen to the important bills that Kenyans want passed. Why are we killing the tenure of the 12th Parliament before it ends?

There are claims that President Kenyatta wants to cling to power after the August elections, especially given his active role in shaping his succession by being the chairperson of Azimio Coalition Council. Is that true?

We have a presidential candidate so there is no power that President Kenyatta wants to cling on. However, he has every right as a Kenyan to give guidance.

We agree that President Kenyatta is still a young person who has experience. He is the first to serve under the 2010 Constitution and is the best person to advise the next president on hits and misses.

Is it the right time for a woman to be the deputy of Raila or Ruto?

This is the right time. In fact, we are late. Looking at the numbers and the demographics of Kenya, there are more women than men. Women are very faithful voters. The person who will have a woman as running mate will have a headstart and an early lead in the August election.

What is your view on the number of women who have been given direct tickets for elective positions? Is it the best way to go?

It is not just about handing direct tickets but handing them to a woman who deserves and is qualified. Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga deserves to be governor. I believe she would have won even if ODM had insisted on nominations. Wanga has performed well in the National Assembly and on the ground. I hope the people of Homa Bay will make her the next governor.

Passing the two-thirds gender rule has been elusive in Parliament. Will the 13th parliament succeed where the 12th failed?

I am happy that many women have won in the nominations and will be in the National Assemby and Senate after the August General Election. If we don’t get it, we must have another way. When it comes to nominations, the women who deserve should get the positions.

Is the Azimio Women League piling pressure on Raila to name a woman as his running mate?

That was just a recommendation, not piling pressure. My advice to lobbies is that we make mistakes at times by tagging a name alongside what we are recommending. That may be construed to mean we are blocking any other woman interested in the position. Let us humble ourselves. You cannot force chemistry. You must give the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party candidate the leeway to choose the person he can comfortably work with.

Your remarks on alleged 2017 election rigging stirred the country and led to you being summoned by the electoral commission. What exactly did you mean?

My track record shows I have never been an inciter. I never talked of stealing votes in 2017. Winning an election is not done on the voting day. That is what many people fail to understand. Elections are won through voter mobilisation and registration. We in Mt Kenya even hire vehicles to take people from hospitals to vote because every vote matters.

I thank God the case is now behind me.


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