19 June 2017

Kenya: Death, Court Battles, All in Pursuit to Represent Nyandarua Women

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work," this are the words of Faith Wairimu Gitau after the High Court in Nairobi restored her candidature for the Nyandarua Woman Representative seat on a Jubilee Party ticket.

After a two-month bruising battle, the High Court reinstated Ms Gitau as Nyandarua County Woman Representative Jubilee candidate.

Her journey to capture the seat begun in 2013 when she contested but lost to the incumbent Wanjiku Muhia.

She joined active politics in 2007 elections when she vied for Ndaragua constituency seat but lost to Jeremiah Kioni.

Ms Gitau says the male dominated 2007 elections taught her some memorable lessons that she applied in 2013 and perfected after she lost and conceded defeat.

TREACHEROUS JOURNEY

"After 2013 General Election, I remained on the ground, serving and interacting with the society. The 2013 nominations were a formality, a shambolic exercise, but I swallowed my pride and conceded defeat," she recalls.

She describes her journey to getting the nomination certificate as a painful experience and a shame to Nyandarua people, especially women who are known to hold their calm.

"Do you know how it feels for one to ruthlessly make every effort to snatch something you have rightfully gotten after working hard, investing all your mind and heart?" she posed.

The treacherous journey began few days after Jubilee primaries.

The two months were more agonising and stressing than the four years she toiled to win the nomination, she revealed.

CONCEDE DEFEAT

Apparently, fed-up with intrigues, a time came when Nyandarua residents felt that the battle between Ms Gitau and Ms Muhia were pointless.

Many felt that Ms Muhia was losing the glory she was fighting to retain.

"I am happy it has come to an end, the court battles were dividing our people, the tension was building. Muhia should have conceded defeat when a young man was shot dead by the police at Magumu.

"Nyandarua has never before lost a life to politics," said Margret Wairimu, from Githunguri village.

Bishop Francis Karara says that the show of mighty and media publicity tainted the image of Nyandarua people.

"I thank God it has come to an end. It was a total disgrace, Nyandarua people had spoken through the ballot, history tells us that Nyandarua is a Godly place, justice is finally done. My appeal is that the two make peace to serve Nyandarua people," said the bishop.

FRESH NOMINATIONS

The supremacy battle began after the Jubilee primaries where ms Gitau was declared the winner with a total of 102, 004 votes against Ms Muhia's 75, 000.

Ms Muhia petitioned Political Parties Dispute Tribunal which nullified Ms Gitau's nomination.

But the High Court restored Ms Gitau's win after a successful application, a decision that was quashed by the Court of Appeal after an application by Ms Muhia.

The appeals court ordered Jubilee Party to conduct fresh nominations guided by the party's nomination rules within 48 hours.

Nyandarua Jubilee party secretary general Machithi Masethi says with limited time, the party had three options.

DISMISSED

"The time limit and resources were against going back to the ballot, option two was to allow participants at the primaries to negotiate and agree on one candidate, while the third option was interview the candidates," said Mr Masethi.

The party went for the third option after Ms Muhia differed with other aspirants Wanjiku Muhoho and Esther Maina who endorsed Ms Gitau.

But Ms Muhia stormed out of interview room in protest.

She later moved to the High Court challenging Ms Gitau's nomination after the interview.

The High Court dismissed her application saying it lacked merit, awarding the certificate to Ms Gitau.

OWN ENEMY

Maendeleo ya Wanawake vice chairperson Faith Nyambura said the court restored the will of the people as reflected in the primaries.

The Jubilee candidate describes Ms Muhia as her own enemy, saying she cooked her own goose and should blame herself for her failures.

"She was busy insulting her opponents during the campaigns, reciting that she has no competitor, she intimidated and underestimated her opponents.

"I remained on the ground working with the community after conceding defeat in 2013, I was justly rewarded by voters for generous service and support in the four years," Ms Gitau said.

She says the court battles were guided by selfishness and misguided ego, and clear indications that her opponent can't respect the will of the people.

MANDATE

"If she respects and loves Nyandarua, she can still serve the people the way I did when I conceded defeat in 2013. We were also portraying a bad image fighting in public," says Ms Gitau.

Having served under the United Nations for more than 25 years, Ms Gitau says she has adequate skills and experience to serve the people of Nyandarua.

If elected, her first mission will be to unite the local leaders to ensure community participation in identifying and prioritising development projects in the county, she promises.

"I know where to get the support we need, it will not be business as usual... all I need is that mandate from Nyandarua people, I am happy they have faith in me," she says.

Her opponents are Ms Monica Mucheke (Maendeleo Chap Chap) and independent candidate Esther Maina.

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