Tenacity and a winning psyche

Politician is dynamic mix of genetics, wit, and an undying fighter’s spirit

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Wavinya Ndeti
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By Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

She is a woman seasoned by battles.Despite strong objection to her candidature by former Senator Johnstone Muthama, she floored Bernard Kiala to claim the Wiper Party ticket for Machakos governorship.

Kiala challenged her win at the Political Parties’ Dispute Tribunal, on grounds that she belonged to two political parties. When the tribunal cancelled the election, she contested that decision at the High Court and won. A repeat nomination was ordered. She won again – this time by a landslide.

After a bruising election battle, Alfred Mutua was declared the winner. She disputed the outcome in the High Court. She lost. She moved to the Court of Appeal. She won.

Now the battle will be fought at the Supreme Court.

Wavinya Ndeti is as relentless as she is tenacious.

Constituents describe the former Kathiani MP as a warrior, a trait often linked to her forebears. She comes from a family of warriors from Machakos’ Muia Hills.

Her father, Nzuki Ndeti, fought in the Second World War. Akamba hero Muindi Mbingu was her uncle.

A fearless former policeman, Mbingu is credited with leading protests against the controversial 1938 destocking policy the colonial used in their bid to disempower the Akamba.

He was later jailed in Lamu over alleged association with the Mau. Only the allegation was untrue. His undoing was his unfortunate decision to speak in Kikamba during a meeting with the colonial governor.

“Twenda kwikala ta maau mau maitu, tuithye ngombe to maau mau maitu, nundu nthi ino ni ya maau mau maitu. (We want to live like our grandfathers, keep cattle like our grandfathers, for the land we live on is our grandfathers).

The reference to Maa umau (our grandfathers) got the colonialists assuming he was part of the Mau Mau.

When he was released, the colonial government turned him into a spy to report on the Mau Mau. He was brutally killed in 1953 during the State of Emergency.

On the other hand, Mzee Ndeti was among the founding members of the Mavoko Municipality. Perhaps it explains Wavinya’s deep interest in the affairs of the County.

Today, courtesy of her indefatigable spirit, governor Mutua’s job hangs by the thread.

In quashing Mutua’s win, Justices William Ouko, Mohamed Warsame and Gatembu Kairu said the election results declared by the returning officer for Machakos County failed “the constitutional test of verifiability,” and that the declaration announcing Mutua the winner had no legal basis.

“In our judgment therefore, the election results declared by the county returning officer for the position of governor Machakos County failed the constitutional test of verifiability… Consequently, the learned Judge erred in holding that that election was conducted in accordance with the constitutional principles under Articles 81 and 86 of the Constitution.”

Article 81 of the Constitution demands that for elections to pass the test of being free and fair, they should be conducted by an independent body, be transparent, and administered in an impartial, neutral, efficient, accurate and accountable manner. These formed the grounds for Ndeti’s appeal.

Article 86 requires that at every election, IEBC shall ensure, “…whatever voting method is used, the system is simple, accurate and verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent.”

The returning officer had admitted that she did not make any reference to Forms 37As from 1332 polling stations when declaring results, when Section 39(1) (B) of the Elections Act, and Regulation 87(2) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012 demand that the officer must declare the number of votes that each candidate got in each polling station – which are captured in Form 37C.

Moreover, it was found that public officers had been engaged as Mutua’s agents – in itself an offence under Section 15(1) (a) of the Election Offence Act.

The court established that one Urbanus Wambua Musyoka was Mutua’s agent in Mavoko Constituency during the election.

At the same time, he was the county chief officer for Public Works. Wavinya said there were 300 such cases, constituting a conflict of interest and a breach of the public officers’ code of conduct.

Mutua has challenged the decision at the Supreme Court, insisting that he was validly elected. His argument revolves around validity of the vote.

Of course, Wavinya has vowed to fight the whole hog.

Wavinya was born in November 1967 and spent her youth in the United Kingdom studying Computer Science and Business Administration. (

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