The investigations into alleged bribery that had rocked the Public Accounts Committee over shady dealings among members led by Ababu Namwamba that has seen a female legislator being implicated has raised queries as to whether women are really less corruptible as is generally assumed.
In Kenya, for a long time, bribery, sex scams, adultery, divorce and separations, alcohol and drug abuse have been associated with male MPs. But now, a new trend is evolving where female MPs are emulating their male counterparts and in instances besting them.
Concern among women lobby groups is that, even before the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Committee tables its report for debate, a number of female politicians are being seen as not exactly beyond reproach in the eyes of the public when placed in scale against pioneer women MPs in post independence parliament; the likes of Julia Ojiambo, Grace Ogot, Phoebe Asiyo and the late Chelagat Mutai. Indeed, it is said, the current women MPs would face mountanous challenges meeting Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity.
Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire who is also the vice-chair of the trouble-ridden PAC has been implicated as having received colossal amounts of money from Defence principal secretary Mutea Iringo.
Last week, Namwamba presented an audio recording to the powers and privileges committee in a flash disk implicating members of his committee among them Mbarire as having received part of the Sh1.5m bribe from Iringo.
During a stormy meeting, Mbarire abstained from voting and stormed out when the Pac members were preparing to take a vote on whether to impeach Ababu or not.
But this is not the first time her name is featuring in a bribery scam. Way back in August 2011 when she was Tourism assistant minister in the Grand Coalition government, Mbarire and her husband Dennis Apaa escaped arrest by a whisker after they learnt of a sting operation that had been set up by the then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission now Kenya Anti Corruption commission as they allegedly tried to bribe its director PLO Lumumba over the Water ministry scam.
According to Lumumba, the couple had been trying to bribe him. She however dismissed the allegations made against her and her husband as malicious rumours. Eventually, her husband was to find himself in the dock on matters relating the ministry of Water scam. He was charged with Billy Indeche a son-in-law of cabinet secretary Charity Ngilu and were eventually acquitted.
Another woman leader whose name has featured prominently in various scams is Nairobi county women rep Rachel Shebesh. She first came into limelight when photos of her and Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko were circulated in social media suggesting that the two were dating.
Although they claimed the pictures were interposed photoshopped manipulations, last year, the two were involved in a bar brawl at Caribea Club in Nairobi. The midnight gun drama saw patrons leave with unpaid bills of Sh300,000 which Sonko later paid and apologised to the management.
According to Sonko, Sh8.5 million Range Rover car was at the heart of the matter that ended with gunshots being fired. But other reports claimed Shebesh confronted Sonko, asking him why he was trailing her.
Eye witnesses claimed that Sonko had arrived at the club at about 7pm in a group of about 30 people and Shebesh was also there with her supporters. Witnesses said tension mounted between the two gangs. It was however unclear what triggered the firing of the gun, reportedly by one of Shebesh’s bodyguards.
Shebesh was also at one time accused of slapping a guard called Kazungu Chengo guarding her apartment. The incident happened on July 17 2013 at around 1.30pm. The matter was reported to Kileleshwa Police Station but no action was taken.
In April last year, nominated Jubilee senator Joy Gwendo grabbed headlines when a young lady claimed that the senator had stolen her husband. What shocked many is that one Thomas Mbewa publicly admitted: “Yes, indeed it is true that I have been stolen by Senator Joy Gwendo”. Gwendo is a single mother and is said to be outgoing.
According to Gwendo, she had been dating Mbewa, an affair that has strained his eight-year-old marriage to Pauline, with his wife’s friends labeling the senator a husband snatcher.
In March last year, Gwendo hit news headlines again when she spent the night in a police cell after failing an alcoblow test at midnight. She is said to have been drinking in the company of Mbewa with those present saying she was exposing a G-string. Sources say Mbewa was the first person she called and was the first to arrive at Muthaiga Police Station soon after her arrest.
The focus has also been on Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo who has been accused of loose morals. During the controversial debate of now suspended Security laws, she is said to have behaved in manner that diminished parliament standings.
During the chaotic debate, the controversial Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria claims, she stripped herself naked and alleged it was him who did it. Kuria claims that he only blocked her from assaulting Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso. Milie had claimed Kuria had touched her private parts.
According to Kuria, no one stripped or attempted to but she actually removed her panty and threw it on the floor of the House shouting that Luo women are not embarrassed of their nakedness.
Millie later posted in her Facebook page that she prides in her nakedness. “When they tried to undress me I completed the process for them. I cannot and won’t be intimidated using my sexuality,” reads her post.
Another MP who is on spotlight is Homa Bay nominated MP Gladys Wanga. She was also involved in the House drama when she poured water on Laboso.
After the incident, Wanga, John Mbandi and Silverse Anami of Shinyalu were suspended from parliament building for four days over their involvement in what was described as immoral behavior during the debate.
During the suspension, Wanga, who is a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission missed the chance to collect the Sh5,000 for every House sitting and Sh40,000 for every commission meeting she would have attended in the same period.
Both Millie and Wanga are said to be a public embarrassment as they are currently hurling dirty words over unknown political wars. Sources say the two have been fighting supremacy wars of Homa Bay politics with Wanga claiming that she is now the one calling shots with Millie referring to her as a political greenhorn who is still in diapers politically.
The rivalry between the two leaders has not gone down well with women leaders. Last week, Kisumu deputy governor Ruth Odinga was forced to intervene and asked them to solve their differences amicably and to stop washing their dirty linen in public. Wanga has accused Millie of jealousy over her alleged rising star in ODM and Homa Bay.
Thika MP Alice Ng’ang’a has also allegedly been caught up in a sex scandal with National Irrigation Board MD Daniel Baraza. Through her links with Baraza, she is said to be fronting her companies to land lucrative tender awards running into millions of shillings at Nib.
She is also alleged to have been involved in an affair with a Thika engineer Anthony Mwaura who runs a construction company, Toddy Limited. Sources indicate that since she entered politics, Mwaura has been one of her chief financiers.
It is not only Mwaura who is being mentioned. In parliament, her relationship with MP Kimani Ngunjiri of Bahati in Nakuru county has been at the centre of discussions among legislators.
But the most talked about is the relationship between Ng’ang’a and Mwaura which is said to be causing ripples in Mwaura’s family.
URP nominated MP Sonia Birdi has also been accused of having wanting morals. She recently hit headlines when in the company of Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, she threatened officers manning the Gilgil Weighbridge.
The two have been accused of mouthing epithets at weighbridge officers after one of their lorries was detained because it did not have KeNHA papers. Rumours have been spreading like bushfire that the two have been having a secret affair and that the two are planning to marry soon.
Sources say Kaur is single and at one time during an interview when asked if she was dating and planning to marry, she replied: “There is no one. I believe that people should control what they can as individuals. What you can’t, leave it. You don’t need to force it. If someday life brings along a man who is well balanced, somebody who can understand me, then I will have a family of my own. At the moment I am happy with my parents, brother and two sisters.”
According to URP sources, some top URP members reached out to her during the early campaign period to bankroll William Ruto’s presidential campaigns. Those who brought her on board had information she has connections among the Asian community. The idea was to use her Asian links to be exploited by URP team.
Controversial Othaya MP Mary Wambui is also in the list of female politicians known to have caused ripples as far as social dealings are concerned. At one time, her claims that she was Mwai Kibaki’s second wife almost tore the then first family apart.
In 2009, a furious Kibaki, accompanied by the First Lady, called a rare, televised news conference on State House grounds where the Head of State said he was in a foul mood over repeated claims in sections of the media about another wife. He reiterated that he had one wife and four children.
Wambui and her daughter Winnie were in the public eye after they were associated with brothers Artur Sargasyan and Artur Margaryan. The two alleged Armenians were deported from Kenya in 2007 at the height of accusations that they were involved in a chain of criminal activities.
An inquiry into their activities revealed a life of carjackings by men who stunningly appeared to enjoy a high profile protection and had even been given the number two Kenya police ranks.
On alleged involvement in drug business, she termed “baseless” allegations that she was involved with drug dealers and challenged those with evidence to make it public. She claims that she has never gone beyond farming.
Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi is also accused of a loose tongue thereby lacking integrity. The then Special Programmes minister Murugi promised to lead women in stripping naked if Uhuru was detained upon his arrival at The Hague for the confirmation of charges hearings. “We are in your full support, and even if it means undressing, we will do it for your sake,” the Nyeri Town MP stated while teasingly holding her dress during a public rally attended by Uhuru.
Taita county women MP Joyce Lay had also hit headlines when he was accused of demeaning men of Taita Taveta county. The matter is threatening to cut short her political career. She is accused to have made negative remarks against Taita men during a speech on Mashujaa Day.
She is a former CMC employee. It was during her employment that she married Bill Lay who was then chief of CMC. Lay is now East African Portland Company chairman. Sources say her marriage is not stable. She is said to be having constant domestic quarrels with the mzungu husband.
Jesica Mbalu MP Kibwezi East had also her own share of problems when it comes to integrity issues. She is married to Justice Joseph Mutava.
During campaigns, he had issues with her for being close to young men who were in her campaign team. She was accused of coming home late and giving out a campaign car which belonged to the husband to one young man.
Nominated Senator Naisuda Leisuda is a single lady. Her nomination as Jubilee senator raised eyebrows with claims that her nomination was influenced by Mason Leishomo. She is said to have no respect for other male Samburu leaders and some have declared war on her for allegedly belittling Samburu men whom she says do not match her style.
Kwale women rep Zeinab Chidzuga who is the mother of KTN Kiswahili news star Mwanaisha Chidzuga was once on spotlight while she served as a CDF member in Garsen constituency during the tenure of Danson Mungatana now the Kenya Ports Authority Board chairman.
It is through her association with Mungatana that she introduced her daughter Mwanaisha leading Mungatana to be declared bankrupt as he tried to live up to her expectations.
Kilome MP Regina Ndambuki had also been accused at one time was being suspected of having an affair with former Kibwezi MP Philip Kaloki who is now the chairman of the Kenya Medical Training College.
Sources allege that she is currently very close to Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao and that the two allegedly spent a night together in a Mombasa hotel where they had been flown by Machakos governor Alfred Mutua together with other leaders.
Busia county women rep Florence Mutua’s social activities moreso at night are the talk of Busia. Not spared is a woman nominated on Ford-Kenya ticket said to have separated with her husband. It not surprising many men dread the prospects of their wives entering politics.
– weekly citizen newspaper