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Heavyweights elected female governors had to beat to become county bosses

The August 9 election produced seven women governors from across the country

Susan Kihika of Nakuru, Cecily Mbarire of Embu and Fatuma Achani of Kwale county

Since the inception of devolution more women have taken the challenge of going for top seats in their respective counties.

Kenyans first elected women governors in the 2017 election - the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Anne Waiguru in Kirinyaga County.

Laboso had beaten the first governor of Bomet and seasoned politician Isaac Ruto, Ms Ngilu trounced the then-incumbent Julius Malombe while in Kirinyaga, Waiguru floored the first governor of the county, Joseph Ndathi.

In the 2022 elections the number of elected female governors had risen to seven, as of August 13, 2022 a development that has been hailed as progressive and an indication of growing involvement of the demographic in Kenyan politics.

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The race for the seats was, however, not easy as the women had to battle tough competitors to secure the seats.

Susan Kihika made history in the city of Nakuru as she became the first woman governor in the county. Kihika was facing off outgoing Lee Kinyajui of Jubilee Party. Kihika who was running on a UDA ticket garnered 440,707 votes against Kinyanjui who got 225,623 votes.

Kinyanjui only managed to beat Kihika by a narrow gap in Nakuru Town where he got 34,923 votes against the latter's 32,908.

Kihika also beat Stanley Karanja, Elijah Chege, James Mungai and Munyua Waiyaki who were running as independent candidates.

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The race in Homa Bay saw the incumbent woman representative Gladys Wanga dash past former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero to claim victory.

Kidero who was the founding governor of the Capital, put up a fierce fight against Wanga who had received the blessings of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party which is the dominant party in the region.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced that Wanga accumulated a total of 244,559 votes against Kidero’s 154,142.

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Notably the victory no one saw coming, Karimi Mwangaza outsmarted outgoing senator Mithika Linturi and incumbent governor Kiraitu Murungi to clinch the seat.

Earlier Murungi had predicted a smooth run after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya dropped his bid to seek the seat again after being dethroned in the 2017 elections.

Mwangaza an independent candidate, garnered 209,148 votes against her closest challenger, Linturi, who got 183,859 votes, while Murungi came last with 110,814 votes.

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Mwanagaza beat Murungi even in his own turf in Imenti South garnering 31,921 against Kiraitu’s 22,359 votes.

The Coastal County of Kwale saw the region elect the first female governor under the United Democratic Alliance.

Fatuma Achani who is the incumbent deputy governor in Kwale county beat seasoned politician Chirau Ali Mwakwere of the Wiper party and ODM’s Hamadi Boga. She garnered 59,674 votes while Boga garnered 53, 972 votes.

Others who Achani beat are Lung'anzi Chai Mangale of PAA and Sammy Ruwa who ran Independently.

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Former Runyejes member of parliament Cecily Mbarire emerged the victor though narrowly in the Embu County contest.

Mbarire beat Lenny Kivuti with only 3,364 votes to be declared the winner. Mbarire who vied on UDA party garnered 108,610 votes against Lenny Kivuti’s 105,246 votes.

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Lenny was running on a DEP party ticket popularly known as ‘Bus’.

In what emerged to be a tough battle, re-elected Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru had the last smile after seeing off woman representative Purity Ngirici.

The elections were marred by rigging allegations from the incumbent governor who read mischief from her opponent forcing a vote recount.

Waiguru garnered 113,088 votes against Ngirici’s 105,677 after the recount.

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Former Transport CAS Wavinya Ndeti is the governor-elect of Machakos County after a vicious battle to secure the seat.

Wavinya besides beating her opponent former State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita had to prove she was academically qualified to run for the seat.

Nzioka who conceded an early defeat garnered 129,181 votes while the governor elect secured 226,609 votes.

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UDA party Chairman Johnson Muthama who cane distant with 37,980.

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