With hard lessons in tow, Rose Kamau seeks to reclaim seat
Once cheated, twice shy is the adage that Rose Kamau is relying on as she stages a comeback in the political arena.
Kamau’s name is not new and already rings a bell among the electorate who she served as a councillor in 2007.
“I was the first elected woman councillor in the then Karatina Market Ward before it was merged with two other electoral wards,” explains Kamau adding that she won the seat despite being denied a nomination certificate during the Party of National Unity (PNU) primaries.
“I was robbed off the nomination certificate but managed to jump ship just in time to win the hotly contested race and become the first woman councillor in the area.”
In 2013, Kamau did not defend the seat. “I opted out of the race after The National Alliance (TNA) Party promised nominate me in the Nyeri County Assembly,” she explains. The party had prevailed upon Kamau to step down as there were nomination seats already earmarked for women in the assembly to meet the two thirds gender threshold.
However, this was not to be as the nominations were marred by irregularities and the party list did not have any nominees from her political backyard in Mathira Sub-County.
“I first sought the intervention of a tribunal that was hearing nomination disputes at KICC before I moved to court to challenge the process and the list was nullified and reconstituted afresh,” recalls Kamau. “Despite this my name was still dropped at the last minute and I missed a chance of being among the first group of MCAs to sit in Nyeri County Assembly under the new Constitutional dispensation.”
Kamau wants to reclaim the seat in the forthcoming General Election and she is not leaving anything to chance. She has been able to establish a bond with the electorate to bolster her chances of winning.
She has initiated several development projects among them renovation of Karatina Market. “This was a project that I started when I was still serving as a ward representative. I have been able to source for funds to complete the stalled project and traders can now sell their wares in a conducive environment.”
Her affinity with women voters has seen her help many groups access soft loans, invest in stock market and register with the National Health Insurance Fund to take away the burden of out of pocket spending for health. She has also encouraged the community to embrace alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Kamau has also been educating the community on available social programmes financed by the Government. “I have made sure that orphans in the ward benefit from the cash transfer programmes and students from disadvantaged families access bursary,” she explains during the interview with the Kenyan Woman.
If elected, says Kamau, she will be able to restore sanity in Karatina town. She says the town is currently sinking and stinking with garbage, the road network including feeder roads are in a deplorable state and the levies charged at the market and matatu termini have tripled.
Kamau believes she has enough ground support to challenge the incumbent who she says has lost touch with the ground and given a deaf ear to community concerns.
She is confident that the electorate will this time round be interested in “a leader whose vision resonates with them”.
“Time has come for us to reconsider who will represent our issues effectively since the incumbent has failed to effectively execute his mandate.”
Kamau is optimistic that she will clinch the seat as she has remained connected to the community.
Her prospects are highly pegged on the valuable networks she has established on the ground. “I believe these networks will help me to reclaim the seat,” Kamau says and points out she has been supporting community projects and has been able to rope in youth, women and men in her campaigns.
She has also embarked on a door-to-door campaign and has been talking to the electorate, making sure that all those with identity cards within her jurisdiction vote in the forthcoming General Election. “I want to make sure that all the registered voters exercise their democratic rights.”
However, Kamau says that due to cultural factors and socialization, women in the area are still subjected to political biases. “There are some people especially the old guards who believe that women should not go for political positions.”
According to Kamau, the situation is aggravated by the fact that most winning strategies are hatched at night when most women candidates unless supported by their families cannot attend.
“Those who attend the meetings are regarded as lacking in family values and, therefore, unfit to serve as leaders.”
Kamau notes that while financial constraints deny women political power, electoral violence is still a big challenge that discourages women from getting into elective politics.
“We have had cases where women candidates are gang-raped and attacked by goons.”
Despite the challenges, Kamau advises women not to shy away from elective politics. “We must strive to attain equality by ensuring that we don’t leave anyone behind.”
She says that women need to support each other and be themselves when campaigning.