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Surviving former civic leaders form an association to push for recognition by the government

Surviving former civic leaders in Kirinyaga County have formed an organisation to lobby for former councilors to be paid gratuity by the State.

The association known as Kirinyaga Former Civic Leaders Association (KEFOCA) has since held its first meeting and elected representatives.

Representatives have been mandated to seek an audience with the Deputy President William Ruto over their deteriorating plight.

The  former civic leaders included those who served at the now defunct Local Authorities namely Kirinyaga County Council, Kerugoya/Kutus Municipal Council and Sagana Town Council.

Speaking to the Media after the meeting, their Chairman Benson Murimi said although some of the members were either sickly or too poor to attend the meeting, at least 300 were present.

He contented that the group after rendering their services dutifully to the electorate were just sent home without any sendoff package on losing the subsequent general elections.

Murimi who served as a civic leader for Kiine Location and later as an MCA after the onset of devolution as representative of Kiine Ward, said most of his colleagues were living in abject poverty.

“All we are asking for our members is just a small token of appreciation for the services we rendered to our people in a similar manner like the former Members of Parliament have been considered,” he said.

However one of the former civic leaders who stands out as an icon in the group is Janet Kagure, aged 96, who was among the elected civic leaders in 1963 after the country attained its independence.

Kagure recalled how she triumphed over five men who were eyeing the Mukure location seat during the first general elections conducted in the country upon the end of colonial rule.

Born in 1923, Kagure had little formal education, she ventured into elective politics at the age of 40 years and at the time when the move was considered a taboo in the African culture.

“Many criticized me for vying for the civic seat and called me names to discourage my vision but this did not distract me from the goal and indeed I got elected alongside Mwangi Njuki who later emerged as the longest serving chairman for the Kirinyaga County Council,” Kagure recalled.

The indomitable Kagure also recalled how her crop of civic leaders only enjoyed an allowance of Sh 200 per month while they were still expected to take part in all matters of development like Harambee which President Kenyatta introduced into the country.

Other pioneer civic leaders in the area included Bernard Kathanga who later became the Gichugu MP and the likes of Mwalimu James Kamaru and his colleague Danson Githinji.

Except for a few of these leaders who appear still in good shape, majority are suffering as attested by their frail looks and dressing.

The first Mayor in the area, Mwai Njagi was also present to see if he could at least be given a token of appreciation after serving in that capacity for a record 10 years .

The last crop of civic leaders before devolution enjoyed some hefty allowances.

The Pioneer MCA s who did not make it back to the Assembly left while driving besides having enjoyed a good monthly salary and overseas trips.

Jeremiah Gateri  who was the last County Council Chairman was elected the Association Secretary.

The association is expected to push for their recognition by the government and negotiate payment of their sendoff package.

By  Irungu  Mwangi

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