Women leaders condemn election violence and calls for unity in the country

A woman pleads with irate youth to stop engaging police in running battle in the just concluded General Elections. Photo: Henry Owino
A woman pleads with irate youth to stop engaging police in running battle in the just concluded General Elections. Photo: Henry Owino

Maendeleo ya Wanawake(MYW) leadership has  come out strongly to condemn recent killings by police officers before, during and after repeat presidential elections. The killings took place in Nyanza, Western, Nairobi and Machakos areas perceived to be opposition (NASA) strong holds.

The MYW leadership blames women elected for various political posts for sitting back and watching while the country burned. The organization claims none of the women in political leadership came out either to calm or condemn the violence experienced in different parts of the country.

Rahab Mwikali, chairperson MYW vehemently condemned police brutality when dispersing youth who were exercising their democratic and constitutional rights of demonstrating and expressing their grievances in the streets. She said excessive use of police in Nyanza regions and parts of Western regions was uncalled for and unnecessary.

“You don’t respond to people hurling stones and barricading roads with bonfires by live bullets targeting individuals. There are much better ways police could have used to identify, disable and arrest those who were criminals but taking advantage of the situation to loot,” Mwikali condemned.

Chairperson of MYW now discloses that women are perturbed by the events during and after repeat presidential elections where several young people lost lives. She wants Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) to investigate the matter and arrest the killers.

Divisive

Mwikali stated that MYW has been in existence for many years empowering women in various aspects of lives including leadership. However, she realized the current crop of women in political leadership are divided along political party lines and tribe.

“Maendeleo ya Wanawake as an organization, has moulded many good political leaders such as Zipporah Kittony, Zainab Chidzuga, Margaret Leshomo, Phoebe Asiyo among others. Some of who are now retired in active politics but mentors,” Mwikali noted.

“It is high time we go back and find out where the rain started beating us,” she posed. We have failed in our responsibility as women, mothers, sisters in leadership by going for money, businesses instead of offering that service we are called for in various jurisdictions,” Mwikali regretted.

Parents also share part of the blame for fueling hatred in the country in that children as young as 2years old are told who their enemies are in the society. This is the mindset that every generation grows up with hence tribalism/ethnicity brews enmity.

Phoebe Asiyo former Karachunyo MP and first Chairperson and Founder of MYW in 1960 recalls back in her days when women could come together to forge for people’s rights and freedom regardless of tribe or political party affiliation.

Influence  

Asiyo remembers how KANU was well grounded and strong in terms of its political influence and economic prowess .Opposition which had just been born thus early 1990s, women united for a common purpose rejecting bad leadership and governance.

The political veteran lady expressed her disappointment on how current women in politics are divided along their parties, tribe and even level of representation.  She criticizes the formations saying it has allowed many loop holes in parliament weakening women bargaining power.

“During the years I served as Member of Parliament for Karachuonyo, we were only four women in the house yet our presence was felt. Today there are 47 affirmative seats in addition to competitive Senate and MPs but the numbers don’t add up,” Asiyo pointed out.

“Women who came in Parliament through direct election underrate those nominated, women MPs undermine women county representatives, and those in National Assembly see themselves greater than those in Senate and this division is tearing their strength apart,”Asiyo cautioned.

Unity

Asiyo is calling for unity among women parliamentarians regardless of their political parties since it is just a vehicle to parliament. Once in parliament they should burry their differences and work for their constituents and deliver as they promised during campaigns.

The retired political veteran wants Kenya Women Parliamentarians (KEWOPA) to stand on its feet, be active and walk in all the 290 constituencies to unite Kenyans, comfort bereaved families and note the pressing issues among youth and women.

“Above all, let Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga engage in dialogue and end this long political stalemate so that the country can move forward,” she pleaded.

Wavinya Ndeti, former Kathiani MP shared similar sentiments and called on women in political leadership to shun hatred caused by different ideologies and unite for common purpose. She said women and mothers all over the country are annoyed by the police killings of innocent youth in Athi River, Machakos County.

Ndeti alleged the police officers targeted the innocent youth because they opposed the government call to vote for Jubilee in the repeat presidential elections. She explained most of the youth were boda-boda operators who stood their ground not to vote.

“The country is more divided than ever before now because police are targeting communities in opposition zones to shoot and kill,” Ndeti said. Why should innocent people be shot dead simply for refusing to vote,” she posed.

“Must one stay put in leadership by killing and maiming people opposed to his leadership. It is not godly in the first place and just a matter of time before it happens like to former Emperor of ancient Babylon King Nebuchadnezzar,” Ndeti criticized.

If women parliamentarians work together for a common goal regardless of their political party affiliations, they can achieve much in the current parliament.  The number of women in this twelfth parliament has increased compared to previous ones. The challenge is now on their unity to get support from men and forge ahead.