The race for Nyeri woman representative seat in 2022 polls is shaping up to a battle between incumbent Rahab Mukami and Margaret Waithiegeni, the second wife of the late governor Nderitu Gachagua.
Gachagu’s first wife Margaret Nyokabi lives in London with their four children – Susan Kirigo, Mercy Wanjira, Ken Gachagua and Jason Kariuki. She is not interested in politics.
Waithiegeni has hit the ground running sending the Mukami camp back to the drawing board.
With deep pockets, having been a major beneficiary of the late Gachagua’s estate, whose fortunes increased tenfold after the government paid his company, Vipingo Beach Resort, about Sh1 billion for 62 apartments demolished in Nairobi’s South C for the construction of the Southern Bypass, Waithiegeni’s entry into the political arena is causing ripples in the county.
She is now using the connections she established as first lady to spearhead her campaigns across the county.
The first Nyeri governor died in February 2017 at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.
His deputy Samuel Wamaathai, who had been at the helm in his absence, took over but lost the seat in the 2017 elections to Wahome Gakuru, who died in a road accident a month after the polls. He was succeeded by Mutahi Kahiga.
Sources privy to Waithiegeni’s game plan said she is doing her mathematics before formally throwing her hat into the ring.
Her entry in the race is bound to give the incumbent sleepless nights.
Already, Waithiegeni’s rich curriculum vitae is sending her rivals back to the drawing board to strategise on how to counter her.
She started off as a secondary school teacher before rising to become a principal.
Her last posting as principal was at Nyakiambi Girls’ High School in Nyandarua county before she was posted to Kagumo Teachers’ College as a lecturer.
She resigned to establish her own school, Riverbank Academy and used her experience as a teacher and manager when her husband delved into politics to run the institution.
“During the campaign period, I was able to connect with women and youth who are a key voting bloc,” she was once quoted saying.
She describes herself as an individual who is passionate about youth and women’s role in society and her work as the first lady revolved around the two groups, which are a key determinants of an electoral outcome.
Signals that she is interested in a political seat emerged when she joined residents for a memorial service in honour of her late husband last year where 2022 politics dominated the show.
During the event that was attended by William Ruto, senate speaker Ken Lusaka and Governor Kahiga in Karatina, Waithiegeni indicated she was eyeing a political office when she decried the neglect of women and youth.
Besides that, she was among the organisers of the free medical camp together with Royal Media Services and other organisations.
Last year was the second memorial service for the late Gachagua who died in 2017 at the age of 64.
In the 2017 elections, the battle for the Nyeri woman representative seat was between then incumbent Priscilla Nyokabi and politician Mukami.
Mukami had given Nyokabi a a run for her money during the Jubilee Party primaries.
Mukami was making her second attempt for the seat after losing to Nyokabi in 2013 elections.
After losing in the Jubilee primaries, Nyokabi defended the seat as independent candidate but lost to Mukami.
While announcing her decision to vie as an independent, Nyokabi said the Jubilee primary poll was shambolic and the outcome did not reflect the will of the voters, adding that she was rigged out by unnamed forces, whom many said was Ruto, who wanted to push her out of politics.
For now, Mukami has aligned herself to the Tanga Tanga brigade that is backing Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.
Waithiegeni has not joined any camp.
Mukami, a key leader of Inua Mama Group, has clashed with Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu who is in the Kieleweke group that is opposed to the deputy president taking over from Uhuru in 2022.
She has been a victim of brutality from goons allegedly hired by the Nyeri Town MP to stop the Tanga Tanga team from “premature campaigns in Nyeri town”.
But Wambugu on the other hand, has been accusing Mukami and Rigathi Gachagua the Mathira MP and Mwangi Kiunjuri of using goons to undermine him in his constituency.
He alleges they are being used by Ruto.
For Nyokabi, she might make a comeback after the president gave her lifeline by appointing her a member of the selection panel that picked National Land Commission chairperson and member