Kiharu Constituency: New comers threaten to oust Gitura

Several people have joined the race for the seat which was once called Mbiri and made famous by the doyen of the second liberation, Mr Kenneth Matiba, and Dr Gikonyo Kiano, who has since died.

Kiharu comes under focus with the entry of Dr Molly Wamaitha Mwangi, who is among new politicians out to oust Mr Kembi Gitura.

Mr Matiba has been a factor in the constituency since the 1992 reintroduction of multipartyism which he resolutely fought for. But his influence seems to be waning, due to poor health, and this time round, each candidate will have to fight his or her own battle.

Mr Ngenye Kariuki, who was beaten by Mr Gitura in the 2002 poll, is out to reclaim the seat. Others who have declared interest are businessman Rewell Thiong’o Kamau, Mr Maribe Mwangi, Mr Tony Kamutu, retired education officer Muturi Mwangi, Mr Daniel Kibira Muhoti, Bishop Stephen Maina, Mr Alfred Njoroge Karega and Republican Alliance Party of Kenya secretary-general Irungu Kang’ata.

Mr Gitura may be entering the race with a handicap; he is said to have lost key campaigners to his rivals. Among them is Mr Ben Gachagua, the local Narc coordinator, who was also the MP’s personal assistant.

Another is Mr Sammy Waweru Mwangi, who is now working with Mr Mwangi, a Nairobi-based businessman.

Issues likely to dominate the campaigns include underutilised resources, falling education standards, the management of the CDF money, stalled community projects like the Murang’a library complex, poor roads as well as declining agricultural production and marketing hiccups. The constituency is made up of Kiharu and Kahuro divisions which have the largest number of poor families in Murang’a North District.

In Kiharu, the poverty rate is 50 per cent, while that of Kahuro is 35 per cent. Neighbouring Mathioya and Kangema have 25 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Kahuro is a tea-growing zone with little coffee, while Kiharu is a coffee zone. Although farming is the main economic activity, the area suffers a perennial food shortage and has to rely on neighbouring districts for supplies.

Among the unexploited local resources that could reduce poverty by providing food through irrigation are rivers Tana, Mathioya and Maragua. Besides, the ancestral Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, a Kikuyu mythical site, should have been converted into a tourism centre.

Mr Gitura’s opponents are capitalising on the unexploited resources, blaming the MP for failing to provide leadership. The giant Kiharu dairy farmers cooperative society that was well managed during Mr Matiba’s era is yet to be revived.

Milk brokers take advantage of the failure to revive the society to exploit the farmers, buying milk at Sh12 a litre, compared to Sh16 offered by Kenya Cooperative Creameries and other key players in the industry.

The MP is also accused of being aloof and arrogant, charges that he denies. He also dismisses accusations of unfair distribution of CDF, bursary and other devolved money, arguing that the committees elected by the community identified projects to be funded.

It is widely believed that the constituency, which is one of the most densely populated in the region, is to be split into Kiharu and Kahuro. It has more than 120,000 voters, while neighbouring Kangema and Mathioya together have about 90,000. The possible candidates have therefore been concentrating their campaigns in their respective regions. Should the split happen, Mr Maribe Mwangi is a frontrunner in his Kahuro Division, in which he has initiated several development projects.

Mr Gitura comes from Weithaga Location in the upper zone, which has produced area MPs since independence, including Dr Kiano and Mr Matiba. The CDF committee is also under pressure to explain certain projects. Among them is the Mukeu bridge and the Karuri community halls.

Another candidate from lower Kiharu is Mr Thiong’o Kamau, 37, of Gikindu Location. In the upper Kahuro, Mr Mwangi has been having a field day, but the entry of Mr Muturi Mwangi is complicating matters for him.

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One Response to Kiharu Constituency: New comers threaten to oust Gitura

Anonymous said...

I hope all the aspirants including the incumbent has a workable plan of improving the livelihood of the people in the area and not just eyeing the good pay. Its a shame to read of the levels of poverty in the area yet the area is endowed with so much resources;eg, the Murarandia zone yet people are barely making it. Can someone think of how to help solve the crisis.