Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Senator's Seat Mine for the Taking - Wanjiru

Margaret Wanjiru is among nine Kenyans who are vying for the Nairobi senatorial seat. The 51-year-old wears many hats. She is not only the Assistant Minister for Housing but also the presiding Bishop of the Jesus is Alive Ministries (JIAM) and a single mother of three.

"Wealth creation is top on my list and that means we must create jobs so we must have the right laws in place, which is what I will do if elected Senator. Waste management is my second agenda because the city is very dirty," she says.

Her first stint at politics was in 2007, when she sought the highly contested Starehe constituency seat beating the then MP, Maina Kamanda. And although her election was disputed and a by-election called in 2010, Wanjiru clinched the seat again, beating her rivals. The self-assured politician will be battling it out on an ODM ticket, which is part of the larger CORD family, and is sure of a win.

"I am confident that it will be Margaret Wanjiru come March 4 because Kenyans have become smarter and they are evaluating leaders as individuals," she says.

As with other leaders, Wanjiru has not been shy of controversy. The third born in her family, Wanjiru had been campaigning for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat but was locked out of the race because her academic credentials were questionable.

A post on the JIAM website says she "worked as a house girl, a hawker, a toilet cleaner, a car cleaner and an office cleaner" and that "she paid her way through college."

"My degrees are from America and in America, the Church and State are totally different entities so you don't have to be under the US education department if you're studying theology," she maintains.

After dropping out of the gubernatorial race, her sponsoring party gave her a direct nomination to seek the senatorial seat. Wanjiru recently claimed that ODM had left party ballot papers for the senatorial and woman representative slots in Nairobi blank.

"There was no name for senator's position so nobody should lie to you that there was only one aspirant. As far as I know there were two (candidates). And there was no one for woman representative. That tells you that this had been planned for a while," she said.

"But I got the senatorial position on merit because I have the numbers; not because I am a woman or because of my tribe," she added.

In 2008 Wanjiru's name also hit the headlines when a man from Gachie came out accusing her of plans to remarry even though the two had allegedly been married, under the Kikuyu customary law.

The matter caused uproar and eventually ended up in court. The man, James Kamangu, has since died. Her opponents including Gidion Mbuvi, alias Sonko, also feel that she should drop out of the race and focus on her Church ministry. But the outspoken leader maintains that she can serve in both the political and Christian entities.

"The Bible permits service in politics and in Church. But that is a topic that we went through in 2006 and in 2007 and we are way beyond it," she said.

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