Nairobi — NARC-Kenya party leader Martha Karua was on August 9, 2022, poised to become Kenya’s first female Deputy President since independence but as fate would have it, this was never to be.
Karua was the running mate to Raila Odinga under the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance ticket in which they narrowly lost to President William Ruto in Kenya’s yet highly contested election.
The Azimio ticket was the most favorable one at least to a majority of the pollsters who posted a higher approval rating for the duo up until the outcome of the polls when they were all proved wrong.
The two leading pollsters in the country-TIFA and Infotrak-put Odinga as the leading candidate in the polls in what at the time signaled the possibility of having the first female Deputy President.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta who endorsed and campaigned for Odinga as his preferred successor had in fact a month to the polls told Kenyans that Karua would take the bull by the horns- in tackling matters of corruption in the country.
“Karua is a lady who doesn’t joke, and I am very sure she will not give all these corrupt leaders and looters a chance,” he said at a campaign rally.
The retired President had severed ways with his deputy for ten years – President Ruto – and backed Odinga as his preferred successor – an endorsement that analysts believe was the curse that ruined the former Prime Minister’s chances.
-Karua is still in denial-
Odinga and Karua unsuccessfully challenged President Ruto’s victory at the Supreme Court.
“The court has spoken. I respect but disagree with the findings,” Karua said soon after September 5, 2022 verdict.
The former Gichugu MP who served for four terms is, however, still in denial to date that they lost the polls and has already moved to the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania to challenge President Ruto’s win.
In the petition filed on Friday, November 4, 2022, Karua accused the apex court of undermining “the rule of law by violating the right of a fair trial”.
In her petition, Karua wants the Arusha-based court to order Kenyan authorities to conduct “transparent, independent, and professional investigations into all violations” allegedly committed by the election commission and the country’s top court.
Karua maintains she will not recognize the legitimacy of President Ruto holding that Azimio’s victory was “stolen”.
“The law recognizes him, I don’t. I have a choice; he is the president courtesy of the law. I don’t have to over-praise that position,” Karua said during an interview on Spice FM on Wednesday.
She added: “I still believe that the results were doctored. You can’t stop my brain from working and force me to believe”.
The Supreme Court in its unanimous decision ruled that part of the evidence presented by Azimio was “hot air,” and had set the court on a wild goose chase.
The court dismissed all the nine issues they had structured in the consolidated petition.
For Karua is it a case of a dream deferred or Kenya’s lost opportunity to produce her first female Deputy President?
At 65, Karua’s entry into the State House race sparked excitement in the country and fuelled hopes that Odinga who vied for the fifth time albeit unsuccessfully would win the election.
Women from different groups in the country rallied behind Karua whom they considered a dab hand and a pragmatist.
“Karua is a remarkable candidate and Kenya’s best choice. If elected, besides advancing the rights of women she will also do good things for this county,” Maendeleo Ya Wanawake national Chair Rahab Muiu said.
Karua’s candidature even attracted international attention that Kenya was on the path of setting history.
Whereas Karua was not the only female deputy running mate in the 2022 contest, her candidature eclipsed those of Justina Wamae of Roots Party and Ruth Mutua of Agano Party who were also eyeing the Deputy President post.
Karua would have also become the Justice Minister if the Azimio team would have clinched the presidency. She resigned from the position in 2009 under the late President Mwai Kibaki’s regime citing frustrations.
In the political scene after the polls loss, Karua has kept a low profile sometimes appearing to be charting her own political path.
When she appears in the public eye, she makes her own pronouncements even as she pledges her allegiance to Azimio and her leader – Odinga.
In 2027 when Kenya will be holding another General Election, Karua will be 70 years old.
The outcome of the poll sunk the Azimio team into opposition and Odinga and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka have in recent days embraced the tag and have been chastising the government on many fronts.
While it is still early days to predict the future, it remains unclear if Karua’s involvement would be robust as it was in the 2022 polls.
Already, Kalonzo who has for a record three times shelved his presidential ambition for Odinga is already positioning himself for 2027.
Kalonzo has several times turned down Kenya Kwanza overtures to quit the opposition and join the government in what is indicative of his pursuit to yet again make a stab at the presidency.
While Odinga appears not to be in a hurry to exit the political stage and retire, Kalonzo has been traversing the country and making heavy political statements.
But in the event, he independently vies in 2027, will he make Karua his deputy and revive Kenya’s dream of having the first female Deputy President?
Or better yet, will Karua mount her own presidential bid and eye to be Kenya’s first female President since independence? Only time will tell.