By BILLY MUIRURI
Posted Friday, April 29 2011 at 22:00
Posted Friday, April 29 2011 at 22:00
- People who ‘represent the face of Kenya’ were invited to campaign launch, including some from slums
Two years after she resigned from the cabinet, former Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua officially launched her bid for the Presidency this week.
The bid comes at a time when the political arithmetic is likely to be determined by the direction of the International Criminal Court process to try the six suspects of the post-poll violence.
Back home in Central Kenya, practically all MPs have pledged support for the Ocampo Six, including some from her party.
With her former allies in PNU isolating her and seeking to form what has come to be known as the G7 political vehicle, can the Gichugu MP pull out a surprise in the run up to the 2012 elections?
Saturday Nation writer BILLY MUIRURI talked to the Narc-Kenya’s leader on her vision and strategy.
How has it been outside the Cabinet, politically speaking?
I have been as active in my political activities as ever. I participate in parliamentary business where I am a member of the crucial Constitution Implementation Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. I did not lose my debating skills and I thank God parliamentary proceedings are covered live.
Why do you feel you are now ripe to be President?
I have enough experience and the capacity to take Kenya to the next level.
Why declare your candidature at this point in time?
It is the right time. It is not early. I want to have enough time to explain myself to Kenyans and sell my policies. People will also have enough time to interrogate my candidature.
Social media has become a key tool in your campaigns. Comment?
Nowadays, people are relying on social media more than any other media. It gives me the space I need to talk to Kenyans of all walks of life. They also have the space to engage me on the issues they have and how they think they can be addressed.
Do you consider yourself the candidate for the youth?
I wouldn’t tell for now but I am a mother of two young adults. I know how to relate and listen to them. I bond with young people well. The youth are a crucial block in any election and I would be keen to have them on my side.
Unlike most politicians, some of the guests at your launch were “commoners”, some even from the slums. What was the message?
I tried to invite those who aptly represents the face of Kenya. They are the voters and they bear the greatest problems of our country. Had the government engaged them, we would not be having high food and fuel prices. Someone could have addressed their problems at the policy level.
Your critics say you do not listen to advice; that the decisions you make are final.
I do not expect detractors to praise me. I only consult the people I consider crucial, depending on the issue. In 2003-2005, I led the water sector reforms. I was part of the Serena Eight in 2008 and the deputy leader of government business at the height of hot political temperatures. Could I have done all this without accommodating others’ views?
Political colleagues consider you a lone ranger; that you do not work with elected leaders.
MPs are not the only elected leaders. Go to Gichugu and you will know how I work with councillors there. It is when I do not work to perpetuate dynasties that I become a lone ranger.
Some of your party’s MPs seem to have abandoned you for PNU, even attending its activities. Doesn’t this worry you?
I am not shaken. We are at the stage of shifting and sifting those to work with. Any party would want to retain its members but we cannot stifle democracy. We shall also be receiving members from other parties.
Your home region, Central Kenya, seems sympathetic to the Ocampo suspects. How do you plan to navigate around this?
Sixty per cent of Kenyans want the ICC process to go on. They want an end to impunity. I am yet to find a culture that treats suspects of serious crimes as heroes. Such suspects have to prove their innocence before being accepted back to society. I support the ICC process as a matter of principle.
Between politicians supporting the ICC and those against, who would you rather work with?
I will not divide Kenyans using the ICC parameter. I would work with Kenyans opposed to impunity, corruption and bad governance.
Winning the Presidency with the threshold enshrined in the new Constitution is a huge task today. Any alliances in future?
I seek to work with Kenyans of similar ideals. For now, I just want to engage with the real voters.
A presidential campaign is an expensive affair. Is Martha Karua wealthy enough to sustain it?
Such a campaign should not be done with personal finances. Even the wealthy candidates still need support from others. I believe I will marshal enough resources from those who share my vision. I know there are potential candidates who will plunder the public purse. I am not part of that.