After unsuccessfully battling for the Jubilee Party ticket in the race for the Bomet Senate seat, Stacey Saida Chepkemoi could be on her way to the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA), after the party named her as one of its 15 nominees.
At only 24 years of age, Ms Chepkemoi is without doubt the youngest among all the nominees for the East African Parliament based in Arusha.
South Rift political leaders led by Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony have kicked off a lobbying spree urging Members of the National Assembly and Senators to consider Ms Chepkemoi for the job, saying she has shown strong devotion to the party and willingness to serve the nation, when the matter comes up for a vote.
“She may be young but very few people bear the kind of determination that I have seen in Stacey. I am sure she will represent this country well in the EALA and I am calling on all our MPs, including those from the South Rift to vote for her when the names are tabled in the House,” said Prof Chepkwony.
In an interview with the Nation, Ms Chepkemoi hailed Jubilee Party for choosing her as one of its nominees, noting that it had demonstrated that the President Uhuru Kenyatta-ledparty was serious about youth empowerment.
The Eala nominee, who has also served as the Bomet County youth president, says despite her young age, she was well aware about the various challenges facing the East African bloc and called on legislators to vote for her as one of the country’s representatives to Arusha, Tanzania.
“Some people would want to discount me on account of my young age but that would be unfair. I believe that I am well prepared to represent the interests of my country and the Jubilee government in Eala. I am appealing to MPs to give me a chance to prove myself,” she said.
But as Ms Chepkemoi battles for an international posting, two other women in Kericho County are battling out for elective seats in the National Assembly, while several others are seeking member of County Assembly (MCA) seats across the county.
Hopes for gender equality in politics suffered a major blow when it emerged that not a single woman parliamentary aspirant had managed to win the Jubilee Party ticket to run for office while only one female candidate for an MCA seat won the party’s ticket during its primaries held on April 25.
Nancy Chebet Langat garnered 2,708 votes to win the Jubilee Ticket in Tebesonik Ward in Bureti Constituency trouncing incumbent Bracolin Suge and joined a small clique of female aspirants whose names will be on the ballot in Kericho come August 8.
NO WOMAN ELECTED
She is joined by Joan Chepngeno, who is vying for MCA in Chaik Ward in Belgut Constituency as an independent candidate and several other aspirants who will run on Kanu and Chama cha Mashinani (CCM) tickets or as independent candidates.
Since independence, no woman has been elected as a Member of Parliament for any constituency in Kericho County unlike the neighbouring Bomet County which has elected three women – Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Joyce Laboso, former assistant minister Beatrice Kones and the late Lorna Laboso.
Even today, the only woman MP in Kericho is the County Woman Representative Hellen Chepkwony while all the six parliamentary seats have been dominated by men as has been the case from time immemorial.
Challenges however still remain for female aspirants. Besides the fact that single women find it very difficult to search for votes, most female aspirants lack the financial muscle that their male colleagues do, forcing them to rely almost entirely on the voters’ goodwill to win the seats they are eyeing.
The county woman representative seat will be a battle between Florence Bore (Jubilee), Vicky Bati (Kanu) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) national official Emily Kirui who will contest on a CCM party ticket.
In the expansive Bureti Constituency, 24-year-old Bachelor of Commerce graduate of Kirinyaga University Faith Mabwai emerged as the only woman in the contest.
Ms Mabwai, who is running on a CCM ticket, asked voters to trust her with the job of running the Constituency Development Fund kitty on their behalf for the next five years and pledged to ensure that no money was lost due to corruption or misappropriation.
“I am young and I do not have much money when compared to my competitors but I am determined to lead because I feel that I have the capacity to do so. If elected I will do my best to ensure prudent use of CDF so that development can be felt across the constituency,” said Ms Mabwai.
In Ainamoi Constituency, Kericho-based High Court advocate Stella Koech will run for Member of Parliament on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.
She will battle it out with Jubilee candidate Sylvannus Maritim and incumbent Benjamin Langat who is running as an independent candidate.
Ms Koech has pledged to push for more resources to be invested towards promoting the economic growth of the youth and women in the constituency by ensuring that they have easy access to funds with which they can set up businesses and create employment.
The lawyer, who is also the ODM Kericho branch chairperson, had in the 2013 elections vied for the Kericho Senate seat but lost to Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter.