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Mud fight and politics of women’s power



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A rare attack by Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo on Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga early in the week has raised questions about the sincerity of women politicians in rooting for more leadership positions as the debate on the two-thirds gender bill rages on.

Ms Odhiambo — popularly known to her supporters as “millo gesa gesa” — is against the county MP’s quest to become the next Homa Bay governor.

It is not clear whether Ms Odhiambo is also eyeing the position, currently held by former Marie Stopes Kenya country director Cyprian Awiti.

It is not lost on keen observers that Homa Bay voters are awaiting a Supreme Court ruling to determine whether Mr Awiti will retain his seat or face a by-election following a petition filed by former MP Oyugi Magwanga challenging his election.

Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have ruled in favour of a by-election on grounds that the Homa Bay gubernatorial election was marred with serious irregularities.

It is therefore not hard to relate the verbal catfights between the two gracious ladies to the supposedly “imminent” Homa Bay by-election.

The Suba North MP has been very hard on Ms Wanga on social media over the past couple of weeks, even though the woman representative has chosen not to respond to her claims directly.

Ms Odhiambo has accused Ms Wanga of doing little with the National Government Affirmative Action Fund and does not merit to be a governor.

“Other women reps have built rescue centres, child protection centres and supplied water to schools. I will not support you (Wanga) merely because you are a woman,” Ms Odhiambo stated in one of her posts on her Facebook page.

Ms Odhiambo went on: “I support women leadership in general. I will not, however, support ineffective and exploitative leadership, even by a woman. Gladys would be the worst mistake Homa Bay would make for choice of governor.”

“Her style of leadership is abrasive, divisive and manipulative. I hereby declare you do not have my support,” she added.

How ironic! During the last Parliament, the two legislators gained notoriety for being combative and abrasive inside and outside the August house.

For example, during the acrimonious debate to pass the controversial Security Laws (Amendment) Bill in December 2014, Ms Wanga was caught on camera splashing water on Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso in an attempt to stop the third reading of the Bill.

Ms Laboso, now the Governor of Bomet County, later said Ms Wanga apologised to her.

During the melee in Parliament on that Thursday afternoon of December 19, 2014, Ms Odhiambo removed her underwear in the hallowed chambers of Parliament to protest an alleged sexual assault by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

“When they tried to undress me I completed the process for them … I cannot and will not be intimidated using my sexuality,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Mr Kuria denied Ms Odhiambo’s claim. So in matters decorum, Ms Odhiambo and Ms Wanga are pretty much birds of the same feather.

When Sunday Nation reached out to Ms Wanga over the allegations levelled against her by Ms Odhiambo, she was not willing to engage in the debate orchestrated by her friend-turn-foe.

“I do not want to get into that debate. Just ignore it. I am not interested in it,” she said over the phone.

On Saturday, Orange Democratic Movement national chairman John Mbadi said the party would equally not be drawn into the politics of the two leaders, terming their clashes as ‘petty political differences’.

“If someone accuses another on grounds of development, it is upon the public to judge because development can be seen on the ground. So you cannot play politics of propaganda using development,” the Suba South MP said.

Former Karachuonyo parliamentary aspirant Anderson Ojwang’ told Ms Wanga and Ms Odhiambo to focus on development.

“They are embarrassing the womenfolk and could make the electorate from Homa Bay stop voting women to leadership positions,” he said.