The general election on August 9th was as shocking and unexpected.
While political coalitions quickly took over some regions, other independent candidates withstood the storm and defeated political heavyweights.
One such candidate is Kawira Mwangaza, the newly elected governor of Meru, who surprised many by running on an independent ticket after defeating two political giants, outgoing senator Mithika Linturi and incumbent Kiraitu Murungi, to become the county’s first female seatholder.
Mwangaza, who is also the bishop of Baite Family Fellowship Church in Meru County, claimed in her first media interview after being named governor-elect that her triumph was a fulfillment of a prophecy.
“They said I cannot run a County but i told both Kiraitu that I would get more votes than him at the ballot,” said Mwangaza.
Mwangaza, who was born in 1979 in the Buuri constituency’s Ontulili village, attended the Ontulili Primary School but was unable to continue to the secondary level due to a lack of funding.
Mwangaza claims that she moved to Marsabit to work as a house assistant at a relative’s house without any hope of continuing her education.
I spent over a year working as a housemaid. I then had the opportunity to enroll in Moyale Girls Secondary School. The pioneer class was us. Four years later, with a C+, I won the Marsabit district election as the top candidate.
Later, she would start a business and graduate from Kampala University with a bachelor’s in education.
“I pursued a Bachelors in Guidance and Counseling but I didn’t start out as a teacher since I ventured into business,” she said.
Her trial in politics started in Buuri constituency where she unsuccessfully vied as an MP in 2013 and it is here that she learnt her biggest lesson in life.
“After the 2013 campaign, I realised that I had spent Ksh.20 million. I was broke and heavily indebted. My husband and I relocated to Ruai where we sold onions and tomatoes as we tried to recover financially,” she says.
With no plan and damaged finances, Kawira and her musician husband Murega Baichu decided to try their luck in the media sector, and it was here that service to the public was formed.
As the station gained popularity, Kawira claims she felt pressure from the people of Meru to try her hand at politics once more. She took extra caution this time to avoid spending too much money on the campaign trail in vain.
“I ran as an independent candidate and won with a wide margin. This campaign was different because it was people driven. I did not spend as much money as I did in 2013,” said Mwangaza.
Mwangaza, an independent candidate, defeated Florence Kajuju to win the position of woman representative. From there, she started her ascent to the position of governor, leveraging operation Okolea and the national government’s affirmative action money to make a difference.
“I ensured the public resources from Ngaaf are prudently utilised. By being with the people, many urged me to go for the county governor seat in 2022,” she said.
Mwangaza has been constructing homes for the underprivileged, donating dairy cows, giving school supplies like desks, blankets, and gumboots, as well as providing scholarships, in an effort to win over the community.
At the height of their campaigns, Mwangaza’s political rivals covered Meru town with posters and massive billboards, but surprise, she went with a different approach.
Mwangaza and her spouse Baichu were the only people Mwangaza entertained the public with while out campaigning.
She promises to close all corruption-related gaps now that she is in charge of the County.
“Just give me a few months and you will see. Meru will be a very different County,” she said.
Mwangaza enters Meru politics history as the second woman to defeat political heavyweights and hold a non-affirmative post in the national arena.
Annrita Karimi, who won a by-election in 1975 for Meru Central, was the first female to do so.
When local male politicians allegedly banded together to fix her in a corruption scandal, her career was cut short.
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