Winnie Kaburu is one of the aspiring candidates for the position of Governor Meru County. She is the only woman in the race with the incumbent Peter Munya (PNU), Senator Kiraitu Murungi (Jubilee), Dr Kilemi Mwiria (MCC); independent candidates Buuri MP Kinoti Gatobu and Bishop Kiambi Atheru.
She is running on an ODM ticket and we caught up with her to find out what exactly makes her tick. She is a founding member of KEPSA, Fair Trade Organisation, National Association of Self Employed Women of Kenya (Naswok) among other achievements.
The mother of five was bubbly, honest and inspiring. Read on…
Who is Winnie Kaburu?
(Laughing) I am a business woman, a politician, a mentor, a mother not only to my children but to so many young people I meet every day.
I have worked as a teacher. I have worked in the private sector and I have sat on boards of many organizations and all this time I have discovered politics is like the air we breathe. When you are setting up a business you must follow laid down policies. Who comes up with these policies? The politicians you put in office. Every June we file our returns to KRA, who decides on the taxation rates and procedures? The leaders we vote for. That’s politics. As Kenyans we must drop the hands-off approach with our politicians. When you elect someone to a public office he is your servant. Ask questions when you get the chance. Involve them and make them accountable to you and the office you elected them to because you are the boss. Be respectful but remain confident, these officers are paid with tax payers’ money, your money.
Why the Governor’s seat?
When I told my friends a colleagues that I intend to run for the governors position Meru county, I remember one of them called me aside and said to me, “Why not run for a position you are certain you can win, like MCA, Women representative you know something in your reach?” I told them because I know I am ready to serve as a Governor. As a woman I want to believe we can achieve anything we set our minds to. This may sound like a cliché but anything non physical a man can do a woman can do. When you join school do you pay subsidize fees because you are a girl? Let no one tell you, that you cannot do something you are focused on doing.
Let’s talk about being on the campaign trail.
Kenyans have embraced the politics of handouts. For them to listen I am expected to line their pockets with money. Every group I have met has asked for money from me. How sustainable is it for me if I must pay you to believe that I can work.
We are so complacent that we do not stop to ask where this money is coming from. As Kenyans we must stop accepting bribes for our votes. We must stop and question the intentions of a candidate who pays us. The act of handing out money creates a corrupt nation. We have to start with changing our attitudes towards aspirants. If you accept money to vote for an individual that shows how little you expect of them. They bought your vote when you accepted their money so when they get in office they will work towards recouping their money and not to deliver. Let no one use you to get into office. Vote for someone because you believe in their ability to perform.
Speaking of using, young people are being used to create violence and create division amongst the Meru people. What’s your take on that?
It’s very unfortunate that Meru people feel the need to threaten their fellow Meru’s just because of whom they support. I remember on the campaign trail I was once blocked from accessing a certain market because I am not popular in that area. My team and I waited for three hours trying to negotiate but we still did not get in.
What is the biggest challenge facing Meru?
Management of resources in the county. I have visited the whole of Kenya and I can tell you that Meru is blessed. (Chuckling) You remember I was Ole Kiyapi’s running mate in 2013 right? We have amazing weather. We need someone who is committed to managing the vast resources we have this will help create sustainable economic opportunities.
When I say managing resources I not only mean agricultural. I mean help nurture talent, collaborate with the concerned individuals and organizations. Create educational and business opportunities. I want to be a leader who makes a difference. A leader who taps the potential of my people. I want to bring peace among my people. I want to serve without favor. This is not just a promise on paper this is what I intend to do. I will serve my people.
There is this saying, “Uti mwana on mwongo na nda.” We are all Meru we are one. Another cliché but one I believe in.
What lessons have you learned as a woman in politics?
Do not settle. If you think you can achieve something let no one stop you. Work hard towards your aspirations. Believe in yourself because no one else will. Use your brain to fight and fight hard. When you succeed because you will do not be a queen bee, do not alienate those who helped you get where you are it is lonely up there.
Give back. You might never have had a godfather or godmothers on your journey but open yourself up to other women to approach you. Let them learn from you. Even if no one held your hand, hold someone’s hand. Be a staircase to someone’s castle, inspire.
As a voter it is in your best interest to read the aspirants manifesto so that you can make an informed decision as we are headed to the polls. The link below will lead you to Winnie Kaburu’s manifesto, make sure to click on it and read;