Honorable Martha Karua (HMK) is a Member of Parliament for Gichugu Constituency, an electoral in constituency in Kenya. Gichugu is one of four constituencies in Kirinyaga District, Central Province. The constituency was established in 1963 and was recently renamed as Kirinyaga East Constituency. For purposes of this series, I’ll refer to the constituency in its old name.
Gichugu constituency has over 80,000 registered voters and 58 Polling stations. Gichugu is a rich agricultural area with tea and coffee as the main cash crops and horticulture farming. The constituency has been represented by Ms Martha Karua for the last 15 years since the introduction of multiparty democracy in 1992.
According to the most recent CCDF Report Card found at http://www.nta.or.ke/reports/crc/Nyeri/Gichugu_January_2011.pdf and information furnished by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the Gichugu area has seen a number of development projects through CDF ranging from health, water and education.
Since the introduction of CDF in 2003, there are over 130 complete and ongoing projects in the constituency. There are 3 complete health centers in Riakithiga, Gaciongo and Joshua Mbai; four complete water projects in Kianyaga, Nyaru, Mukia and Ngumara; and seven bridges in Kathata, Konyu, Muratiri, Kanjangiri, Njambo, Gatuki and Karoki.
There has also been ongoing construction of Day secondary schools in the constituency with 10 schools complete thus far under a new policy where the government is encouraging construction of secondary schools in unutilized land owned by primary schools.
The complete secondary schools under this arrangement include Rukenya, Gatunguru, Kianguenyi, Kiandai, Gacatha, Kiaumbui, Kathunguri, Karumandi, Kavote and Thumaita. HMK has also assisted several primary schools in electrification and building of new classes for example at Kiathi, Rwambiti, Gikumbo and Kathunguri. Under her patronage, CDF has also aided in the construction of a laboratory at Ngiriambu primary and a youth polytechnic at Kianyaga.
Ms Martha Karua has also funded planting of trees in all sub locations in the constituency at a total cost of Ksh 400,000. She has also set aside Ksh 2.2 million from CDF to assist poor former students to obtain their secondary school certificates.
Other major CDF projects are revival of the old Kutus Market at a cost of over Ksh 2 million, funding of Gichugu Horticulture exporters association at a cost of Ksh 3 million and funding of Gichugu diary at a cost of Ksh 1 million. She is also responsible for the construction of Kianyaga sub district hospital through the African Development Bank and the tarmarcking of the Rukenya-Kimunye road.
As a member of parliament, HMK therefore appears to be delivering for her constituency and this may in part explain why she has been re-elected successfully since first vying for the seat. I say in part because sometimes a member’s election or re-election to parliament has nothing to do with what that particular member has done on not done for the constituency. Having nothing to go by to the contrary, I’ll give HMK the benefit of doubt that she has and continues to deliver for her constituency.
Were HMK content on being a Gichugu MP and occasionally a minister as she has been, then one could say the Gichugu seat is for her to keep as long as she wishes, given this record. HMK has, however, declared her intention to run for president, which means she will give up the seat at least during this election circle.
The question I am sure she has asked herself and answered is, does she have what it takes to be elected president? I am equally sure she has answered this question in the affirmative otherwise she would not so declare, unless she is simply trying the waters but when push comes to shove, she does not throw her hat in the ring, opting to stay put as Gichugu MP until perhaps another time.
Either way, I think this is an interesting question to ask and answer, namely, does HMK have what it takes to be elected president? Because HMK is a woman and an outspoken and feisty woman for that matter, a lazy answer may just be no, not in a male dominated culture such as ours. However, my hunch is this may be too simplistic and thus my intention to provide an objective and complete analysis to answer the question in this series.
Before answering this question, however, it’s important to first analyze what it would take to launch and conclude a successful presidential run in Kenya, and what it takes to be elected as president in Kenya, which are two different issues, especially in light of our new Constitution. I will then use that analysis as a benchmark against which to measure each candidate starting with HMK.
In Who Is Martha Karua Part III, I will continue to analyze HMK’s quest for the presidency in Kenya.