At least 12 aspirants have declared their interest in the Nyamira County Woman Representative seat setting the stage for a major political battle ahead of the August 8 polls.
Incumbent Alice Chae faces an uphill task to retain her seat following the entry into the fray of both seasoned and greenhorn politicians.
The aspirants include Jerusha Momanyi and Grace Nyamongo, who emerged second and third respectively, for the same seat, in the 2013 General Election.
Also in the race is former nominated MP Catherine Nyamato, University of Nairobi business school lecturer Ann Nyaera Omwega, Ms Josephine Nyarera, Ms Leah Nyaera, Ms Nancy Onsongo, Ms Zipporah Osoro, Ms Joy Kerubo, Ms Harriet Obaigwa and Dr Janet Bochaberi Ondieki, a senior Nyamira county government employee.
Ms Abigael Matini, another aspirant, dropped her bid after her co-wife — former Sironga Girls High School principal Mary Matini — insisted on vying for the same seat.
In an interview with the Nation, Ms Abigael Matini says she will instead back Dr Ondieki’s bid “for personal reasons”.
“My co-wife did not consult me before declaring her interest in the seat. She knew very well that I was also in the race. I have therefore dropped my bid so that we don’t confuse voters,” said Abigael, who also contested the seat in 2013 and lost.
In 2007, the politician also vied for the Kitutu Masaba parliamentary seat but lost to Mr Walter Nyambati.
ODM is the dominant party in Nyamira County, although Jubilee is also making inroads in the region.
ASPIRANTS’ BUCKET LIST
Notwithstanding party affiliations, the aspirants’ development record and how they will endear themselves to the electorate will determine who wins the contest.
Ms Mary Matini says she joined politics to empower youths many of whom still depend on politicians for handouts.
“Politicians have indeed impoverished their constituents to ensure they remain in power. I want to change this by empowering them,” she goes on.
She urged voters in the region to choose their leaders wisely.
“Do not look at the size of the aspirant’s pockets but what they are capable of doing for you once they assume office,” says Mary.
The aspirant has also prioritized the fight against graft saying this has negatively affected service delivery in Kenya.
Dr Nyamongo and Ms Momanyi, on the other hand, accused Ms Chae of failing to deliver a number of her pledges.
“She had promised to initiate income generating projects for women but to date, we have not seen any,” says Dr Nyamongo, a Kenyatta University don.
Ms Momanyi, a member of the Nyamira County Assembly Public Service Board, on her part, ranks Ms Chae’s performance as “below par”.
Ms Ann Nyaera Omwega, another aspirant says; “Using my knowledge and experience as a lecturer, I will educate women and youth on how they can build businesses to improve their livelihoods.”
Ms Omwega further says that she will introduce the supply of sanitary towels for school going children.
This, adds the aspirant, will increase their enrolment in institutions of higher learning.
Contacted, Ms Chae defended her development record.
The Woman Rep says she has, for instance, participated in a number of fundraisings in aid of the construction and refurbishment of schools and churches in the region and pleaded with voters to give her another chance.
“I have also been in the forefront of fighting Female Genital Mutilation in the region. I have waged this war with a lot of success,” she goes on.
Ms Chae says despite the fact that Woman Reps are not “facilitated” to do their jobs, she has “performed well”.
“It has been very difficult to fulfill my political pledges using my own salary,” she said.
Other than development records of each of the aspirants, clanism will also play a key role on who will be the county’s next Woman Rep.
The county is divided into two major clans – the Abagetutu and Abagirango.
Members of the Abagirango clan live in North and West Mugirango constituencies while their Abagetutu counterparts reside in Kitutu Masaba Constituency.
Abagetutu, political pundits argue, are said to be more united than their Abagirango counterparts.
The pundits argue that they may use this to their advantage and support one of their own to clinch the seat.
During the last elections, Ms Chae, who won the contest, was from the Abagetutu clan.
But the high number of contestants from Kitutu Masaba may again give those from Abagirango clan like Dr Nyamongo, Ms Omwega and Ms Nyamato an upper hand in the race as the many candidates will share the spoils among Abagetutu clan.
Those eyeing the seat from Abagetutu clan include Ms Chae, Ms Momanyi, Ms Mary Matini, Ms Nancy Onsongo, Ms Obaigwa and Dr Ondieki.