Alice Wahome: Is it aggression or just raw political ambition?

It started with toilets. A social media user posted a photo with a row of rusty toilets and moaned the poor state of infrastructure in Kandara MP Alice Wahome’s backyard.

Wahome’s response was: “That is the shame of school infrastructure in Kenya. Not just Kandara. Jinga wewe.”

This sparked outrage from internet users. Wahome did not change tune. She called them haters and told them her contract does not indicate that she should fix infrastructure in schools.

Ms Wahome was called many names. Troublemaker, arrogant, condescending and other unprintable adjectives.

“People do not understand me. Kenyans are not used to hearing the truth. They get very rough when someone, especially a woman, stands for the truth,” she says.

Fiercely chased

She has been in the news. If she is not engaging in a tweef (hold a public argument, beef, on Twitter) with her followers, she is taking President Uhuru Kenyatta head-on, telling him he is the biggest existential threat to Kenya’s declining economy.

Many have been asking what is pushing her.

“Why the aggression now? Who is pushing Wahome?” one of his followers asked.

Her answer is simple. She is pushing herself. She says she has always fiercely chased what she believes in, but media has been deliberately ignoring her. “Media people choose specific people to follow and report on.  Nothing about me has changed,” the MP says.

Her entry into politics was preceded with drama. It was January 2013, a few months to the General Election. The men Wahome was contesting against, among them PMG Kamau and former Kandara MP Maina Kamau were popular.

“I woke up and found condoms bearing my name being distributed. There was a note saying they were a gift from me. I was horrified…” she says. She had her suspects, and her finger was on the two opponents.

“They were scared that I was going to beat them so they went low. They wanted to paint me as an immoral woman,” she says.

PMG Kamau lets out a hearty laugh and says: “You know that woman is a criminal. Those were her condoms. She wanted sympathy votes…to say, oh, men are throwing condoms at me…men, men, men…so that people feel sorry for her.”

Fascinating to feminists, odious to his opponents and player of the populist wave, Wahome seems to have mastered the game of controversy and this props her as a better candidate during the electioneering period.

Her insinuation that President Uhuru Kenyatta is using the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to extend his term in office has elicited mixed reactions. Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru regards her utterances as attention-seeking antics.

“She is seeking cheap publicity by purporting to respond to Murathe. President Uhuru Kenyatta is capable of speaking for himself on such an important matter,” she says.

Her critics claim she is being used by Deputy President William Ruto to oppose the BBI and fight the wars in the Jubilee leadership. “If you follow what she has been saying at Inua Mama meetings and how personalised her fights with Uhuru are, you will realise from the undertones that she is speaking for Ruto,” says Irene Danga on a social media thread that was discussing Wahome’s conduct.

Ms Waiguru says the MP’s cheap populist attacks are not helping the liberation movement she claims to be championing. “It is ridiculous that her and her team purport to attack President Kenyatta for the supposed failures of Jubilee and then proceed to advance deputy Ruto as the solution to these failures. Simply preposterous!” she says.

Other people say there is a whiff of shrewdness and a possibility that money could have changed hands between Ruto and Wahome. “I have not been paid. I have not seen or talked to Ruto since the year started. All those are lies,” she says.

Wahome claims that there are cracks in the relationship between Kenyatta and Ruto, but denies being used to push an agenda.“We are in Jubilee and we can tell there is friction. Even though it has not been spoken, as an intelligent person, you just read and see,” she says.

Wahome’s controversial way of handling issues is not new. At the height of the tension that marked the 2017 General Election, Wahome was captured on a video engaging in a fight with Kandara Returning Officer Martin Malonza.“There were many incidents of spontaneous reactions. It was not violence. It was taken out of proportion. I regret the scene but I cannot take the entire blame,” she says.

What she terms as spontaneous reaction has been called wavering and lack of political stand by many.

People have questioned the sudden change of tune and the tactics she is using to question Uhuru, including the speech she gave during the burial of former Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia.

Wahome says it is only sycophants and fools who do not rise up to question leaders, including the ones they endorsed. “If that is what is going to cost my political seat, so be it. I am not a sycophant,” she says.

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