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February 24, 2020 - 14:54
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Is Kandara MP a blessing for region or a poisoned chalice?

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JOSEPH WANGUI

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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Alice Muthoni Wahome, the first woman to represent Kandara Constituency in Parliament, has recently become firebrand – even cantankerous – with some pundits branding her the face of the budding rebellion against President Uhuru Kenyatta in central Kenya.

The seasoned lawyer seems to have taken the baton from the likes of Moses Kuria and Ndindi Nyoro, who also earned a reputation for disparaging the President’s political moves – or lack thereof – after the 2017 General Election.

In central Kenya, Ms Wahome has now earned the tag “woman with guts” especially after telling the President to his face that State is misusing its powers and machinery to threaten politicians allied to his deputy William Ruto.

She is the leader of Inua Mama, a women’s lobby that supports the Deputy President’s 2022 presidential bid.

At the funeral service of former Cabinet minister and Second Liberation political detainee Charles Rubia in her constituency on Monday, the MP did not mince her words in claiming that the police state, which characterised the Moi era, was creeping back.

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“We have received calls and threats. This can’t and should never be… that should not be your legacy,” she told the President, implying that State agents were intimidating pro-Ruto politicians, otherwise referred to as Team Tangatanga.

The abrasive second-term MP asked the President to protect the freedoms fought for by leaders of the Second Liberation.

Unamused, the Head of State listened to her tirade, as dozens of mourners watched in dismay.

Ms Wahome also accused President Kenyatta of being a threat to the country’s economy, democracy and freedom of expression.

But the MP is something of a paradox.

In the past three presidential elections – in 2013, August 2017 and October 2017 – she passionately campaigned for Kenyatta’s election. She led the Jubilee Women Brigade,

They wore military-like fatigues (which is illegal) and went to campaign for the President. In 2017, Ms Wahome was accused of roughing up an electoral returning officer in her constituency allegedly to recover President Kenyatta’s “stolen votes”.

A video of the alleged incident was widely circulated on social media.

This involved votes cast at Kiiri Polling Station 02.

The presiding officer, Mr Martin Malonza, posted a total of 440 votes meant for the President in favour of another presidential contender, Japheth Kaluyu, who had zero votes.

The returning officer reported that the MP accused him of rushing to forward election results to Bomas of Kenya “without her input”.

However, the former state counsel at Attorney General’s Chambers was not apologetic over the incident, even after the Office Director of Public Prosecution ordered investigations into the matter. She was also summoned by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for questioning, but it is unclear how the matter was concluded. In 2014, she was among Jubilee MPs who caused a scene at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, during the status conference of President Kenyatta’s case.

She was reported to have been knocked down by a cyclist outside the main entrance of the court, but she was not hurt. And after the ICC dropped charges against the President, she was among MPs who vowed to push for his compensation.

Now, her falling out with the President has left her levelling bile-laced critiques against him and his new political ally, ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Recently, she has caused a social media storm after claiming that Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is a plot by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to remain in power after the 2022 elections.

“Mr Odinga is his (President Kenyatta’s) new political mercenary for hire,” she said last week.

She was among the Ruto-allied MPs who disparaged the BBI report before its launch, christening it, during their political rallies, as Beba Baba to State House Initiative.

“The BBI report is a special purpose vehicle heading to the route that has been suggested by the two, to cling on to power post-2022,” she stated, questioning why President Kenyatta has not responded to sentiments made by his close confidants such as David Murathe and trade unionist Francis Atwoli, who said the President will not retire at the end of his second term.

According to the MP, suggestions that President Kenyatta should not retire are an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans.

When President Kenyatta issued a stern warning to Jubilee leaders, especially those from his backyard who were defying his directive to stop early 2022 presidential campaigns, Ms Wahome hit back, saying that the Central Kenya legislators were not elected because they supported his presidential bid.

The President used “thugs” and “rubbish” while describing the ever politicking Jubilee leaders, a statement Ms Wahome termed unfortunate.

It is not just the Executive which the fiery MP has rubbed the wrong way. In 2016, she opposed the nomination of Philomena Mwilu as Deputy Chief Justice, claiming that the judge had received Sh3 million to dismiss an election petition she had filed in 2008 against former Kandara MP Maina Kamau.

Ms Mwilu, in her rebuttal, accused Ms Wahome of witch-hunt based on a past falling-out between them.

In a detailed explanation, Ms Mwilu told the parliamentary Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that the MP’s claims stemmed from a ruling in an International Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) case involving the appointment of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which Ms Wahome lost.

Her name has lately been synonymous with controversy.

The current target is President Uhuru Kenyatta. Will she relent? Will she train her guns on somebody else?

We’ll know soon enough.

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