Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Meet County Politician Who Operates in a Market

Nairobi — As some County ward representatives boycott work demanding work stations and better pay, Ngewa ward representative Karungo wa Thangwa has literally pitched office at the Kwa Maiko market where he attends to his constituents every Tuesday.

Armed with a simple donated wooden desk and chair (worth about Sh2,000 each), Thangwa meets his 'clients' as he calls them, hanging on to their word as if his life depended on it and providing a solution where possible.

Although erratic weather patterns threaten the comfort of his makeshift office, Thangwa still dedicates about five hours to touch base with his constituents so that he is able to represent their needs in the Kiambu County Assembly adequately.

"I got my desk from a man who was selling second hand furniture because I was getting tired from walking around the market meeting different people. He promised to lend it to me every time I go to the market," he tells Capital FM News.

"So unless this man changes his mind, I still have an office. Are you thinking of donating one to me?" he asks rhetorically.

Thangwa drives all the way from his Thindigua home in Kiambu to the Githunguri office that does not have the luxury of a fancy carpet or a tiled floor.

He does not expect any allowance for this initiative even though he fuels his own car out of his Sh79,000 gross pay.

Sometimes when the wind gets too rough, he uses bananas or stones to keep the papers on his desk from flying away.

"I was not planning to eat the banana on my desk. We were just using it to prevent the papers on my desk from being blown away," he says to our amusement.

"And my office doesn't have a roof plus the ground is all muddy especially now that it has been raining," he adds.

But these conditions do not keep him away from his constitutional duties.

Perhaps he is one of the leaders, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto envisaged for Kenya when they expressed confidence that the country could become a middle income society by the year 2030.

Thangwa's leadership quest is mostly about service and not necessarily about a fat bank account balance at the end of the day.

"I am not particularly interested in the committees because this is not about the money but mostly about keeping the promises I made when I was campaigning. I won't run away from those promises," he argues.

Thangwa also explains that he has to send a short text to his constituents as well as post a notice on his Facebook page informing them of the details of his next meet the people tour.

On his last visit, he requested constituents who were looking for jobs to bring their CVs to him so that he would post them online and expose them to the job market.

"I told them to bring them not because I had jobs to give them but because I am going to post them on a website we are about to launch so that employers can pick them from there," he explains.

And as a parting shot, Thangwa invites Kenyatta and Ruto to his office for a chat and perhaps a cup of kienyeji (local) tea.

"I would like to invite them to my office any Tuesday so that they can see what we go through so that they are able to make nice decisions surrounding the counties," he says.

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