Women aim for better show in Senate race

Saturday July 15 2017

From left: Hazel Katana, Susan Kihika, Fatuma Dulo and Joyce Lay

From left: Hazel Katana, Susan Kihika, Fatuma Dulo and Joyce Lay. They want to be elected as senators in their respective counties. PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Women stand a better chance in the August 8 General Election to have some of their own in Senate.

This is so in spite of the fact that the number of women competing for the Senate is the same as it was in the 2013 polls, when voters declined to elect a single woman to the Senate.

If results of primaries in counties where some political parties are dominant are anything to go by, at least two women are set to be voted to the Senate.

Out of the 256 candidates contesting the senatorial seat in the August 8 poll, only 17 are women, the same number that competed in 2013.

The current Senate has 18 women nominated by political parties through affirmative action, in line with the Constitution.

Two others were nominated by their parties to represent interests of the youth and people with disabilities.

In Uasin Gishu County, former Education Cabinet Minister in the Kibaki administration, Prof Margaret Kamar, won decisively in Jubilee Party’s primaries to clinch the ticket for next month’s General Election.

In the Jubilee Party nominations, the soft-spoken professor garnered 65,931 votes to beat a field of 13 male aspirants, including incumbent Isaac Melly who came fourth with 10,391 votes.

Her closest rival Robert Kemei, a popular comedian, got 44,467.

But on August 8, Prof Kamar will need to beat five rivals to become Uasin Gishu’s next senator.

In Nakuru, Ms Susan Kihika, the former Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly is pitted against five rivals who include nominated youthful MCA Margaret Kiiru, who is running as an independent.

During the Jubilee Party primaries, Ms Kihika, a lawyer, won the ticket after beating seven opponents decisively.

She towered over her closest rival - fellow lawyer Karanja Kabage, with more than 200,000 votes. 

In Mombasa, the county’s deputy governor Hazel Katana is the Jubilee Party’s candidate for the seat after defecting from ODM.

Ms Katana, who joined politics in 2013 from the corporate world, has had a strained relationship with her governor and ODM Deputy leader Hassan Joho, which burst into the open last year.  

She is in a tight race to replace Wiper’s Senator Hassan Omar who is gunning for governorship, and is pitted against nine candidates among them another woman, Ms Florence Wawuda of Vibrant Democratic Party (VDP).

In Isiolo, nominated Senator Fatuma Dulo has opted to seek election for the same seat and says she is confident of winning.

Ms Dulo, who says she has had to fight against all odds as a woman from a pastoralist community to be in politics, is running for the seat on a Party for Development and Reforms (PDR) ticket, seeking to replace the incumbent Mohamed Kuti, who is gunning for governorship.

In Trans Nzoia, Senator Catherine Mukite chosen to remain in the Senate as an elected member.

The retired banker who was nominated by Ford Kenya in 2013, is running as an independent as she seeks to unseat her House colleague, Senator Henry ole Ndiema.

In Taita Taveta, the County Woman Rep Joyce Lay has opted for the Senate, seeking to take over from Senator Dan Mwazo who seeks to unseat Governor John Mruttu.

Ms Lay and Mr Mwazo were elected on an ODM ticket in the last elections but they have since crossed over to Jubilee Party on whose ticket they are both running.

Ms Lay is competing against Ms Anne Nyambu of Kanu.

In Kiambu, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology lecturer Juliet Kimemia is in the race with three opponents including outgoing Senator Kimani Wamatangi of Jubilee Party and journalist Karungo wa Thang’wa, running as an independent. 

In Nyandarua County, human rights activist Beatrice Kamau will be fighting it out with two opponents among them Jubilee Party candidate Mwangi Githiomi, a former Kipipiri MP who served as a cabinet minister in the Moi government. 

Ms Kamau played a key role in the release Political Prisoners Pressure group (RPP) .

In Kitui County, Ms Dorcas Mwende Kameta of Jubilee Party will face off with four rivals.

Senator David Musila is gunning for the county’s governorship post.

Among those Ms Kameta must beat to become the next senator is journalist Enock Wambua of Wiper Democratic Party.

Next door in Machakos County, Ms Winfred Nunuva Mutua of Jubilee Party is gunning for the senatorial seat and is in the race with four other candidates who seek to replace outspoken Senator Johnson Muthama, a key figure in the Nasa opposition coalition who has opted not to defend his seat.

In Busia, Ms Karen Aduol of Amani National Congress (ANC) will be striving to unseat the incumbent and for former Attorney-General Amos Wako, in a race that has six other candidates.

Other counties where women are seeking senatorial seats include Kwale where Ms Lula Hassan Nuru of Alternative Leadership Party of Kenya hopes to fill the gap left by Senator Boy Juma Boy who died this year.

In Wajir County, Ms Abdia Hassan Baraka of Justice and Freedom Party is in the race while in Nairobi, Suzanne Silantoi, 23, an independent candidate, will face off with Jubilee Party’s Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja and ODM’s Edwin Sifuna and four others,