In an exclusive interview with the Daily Nation, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru details the behind-the-scenes manoeuvres to “destabilise” her politically and why ODM leader Raila Odinga has the credentials to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.
She also highlights the effects of devolution in the country.
Q: You are on record accusing unnamed people of being behind a plot to undermine and destroy you politically. Who could these people be?
One can only surmise that this is part of 2022 politics at the national and local level. Whoever is pushing the agenda has interests in ensuring that my name is spoilt so that I’m not considered in 2022.
But the people are wiser. It has happened before. Truth and justice prevails and vindicates. To quote Maya Angelou, ".... I will still rise."
Do you intend to seek a higher position under a new constitutional dispensation, or you will opt to go for a second term as governor?
It is very early to think positions, but everything is on the table.
Our focus right now is dealing with coronavirus. Constitutionally, the focus is enhancing diversity in leadership, including that of gender. Once that is implemented, I will review my options.
Do you think you are being persecuted because of your role in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), where you serve as the Mount Kenya team leader?
I would not be surprised. I identified with the president and Hon Odinga on the BBI as the solution to Kenya’s problems very early.
I took political risks by publicly joining the BBI campaign. Some of my colleagues who were unsure but have since joined the train would naturally be concerned that I may run with the “prize”. That is politics.
BBI proposes that in leadership positions, there’s need to have diverse gender. For example, If a governor is male, then the deputy must be female and vice versa.
Do you think there are fears by certain people that you may opt for the presidency or offer yourself as someone’s running mate and automatically become President Kenyatta’s heir in Mt Kenya region?
The gender parity in political leadership is non-negotiable. It’s not a personal investment.
Women have a right to national leadership, but our structures discriminate against them. I know because I’ve walked that road.
I worked three times more than any man to get there. Once the idea is accepted, I shall review my position and make the decision that I believe serves the interests of my local, regional and national constituents best.
ODM leader Raila Odinga has been the face of the BBI with President Kenyatta's blessings. Do you think your closeness with him has rattled some political forces to an extent of launching a fight against you?
I would not be surprised. Many people are threatened by our working together and I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to put hurdles in my path. Again that is politics.
There’s a belief that by President Kenyatta rolling out the red carpet for Mr Odinga, he may be his surprise successor in 2022. How true is this?
I’m not privy to such plans, but Hon Odinga has the credentials to be president, both from his historical role in Kenya’s transformation and his broad political constituency.
Is Mt Kenya ready for such a political arrangement?
I believe so. Mt Kenya is generally pragmatic politically and will vote for the person they believe best represents their interests.
Any objections you hear about Odinga are personal and transient. When the crunch comes, you’ll be surprised.
You term the current political storm facing you in Kirinyaga as “sideshows” by your political detractors. How do you plan to deal with it in the wake of the current pandemic, which the entire globe is trying to fight?
It’s unfortunate that when we are dealing with a global pandemic, we’re being distracted by frivolities.
However, I’ve weathered many storms. I will weather this one and continue to serve the people of Kirinyaga, most of whom are disgusted by these antics when they see how much we have done in the last two-and-a-half years.
What’s your take on several attempts by MCAs from various counties to opt for impeachment motions against governors?
Every Kenyan knows what most of these impeachments are about.
While some may be legitimate, you can tell the illegitimate ones by the grounds on which they are based. Many, like mine, are frivolous and an embarrassment. It’s usually extortion and political brinkmanship.
What do you think should be done to avoid such moves?
We may have to review the law to provide for an independent investigative process that establishes grounds exist prior to impeachment.
This process where people wake up, concoct some grounds and proceed to vote is a violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
What's your take on the state of devolution in the country seven years on?
We have had some successes and some challenges, but there is no greater benefit to citizens generally than devolution.
While Kenyans will complain, they know that the country is better served, more equitable and participatory since devolution.
What do you think should be done to strengthen devolution and cushion governors from claims of rampant threats and intimidation by MCAs?
On strengthening devolution, of course the first area is increased allocations.
On MCAs, there must be a way to ensure that the oversight powers are not abused, by creating structures that require objective finding of fault prior to removal proceedings.
It’s nearly two-and-a-half years since you were elected governor. What are some of the projects you have undertaken that will benefit the public?
Right now the most exciting programme is Wezesha Kirinyaga.
We’re now implementing a project that will enable us to be producing a million eggs a month through women’s groups across the county.
We have numerous other projects that seek to empower the citizens.