As Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday to elect leaders of their choice, a majority of voters in Kericho County were caught by surprise to find that the ballot papers for the County Woman Representative to the National Assembly were not available at polling stations.
A good number of voters were oblivious of the fact that their Woman Rep candidate was unopposed and had already been gazetted as the duly elected MP via a notice released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
More often than not, there are such occurrences though rare during election years, as it is a norm for contestants to battle it out for elective positions with zeal.
However, this year, the dice rolled in favor of a former Sunday school teacher who hails from Kakibei village in Soin/Sigowet Sub-County within Kericho County.
Meet Beatrice Chepngeno Kemei, a former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) compliance officer who is the only woman Rep candidate in the country who vied this year unopposed in Kericho County under a UDA ticket.
In Kericho, Kemei is nicknamed ‘Chebaibai’ (which means the happy one) in the Kalenjin language, and true to that description, she never misses wearing a smile on her face and a flower in her hair publicly, giving her an aura of friendliness.
It was during the UDA nominations earlier this year that she trounced five other candidates contesting for the Woman Rep position.
And even after the nominations, the race did not attract other interested candidates from other parties including Independents and that rendered Kemei the only contestant vying unchallenged.
She might not be famous politically and definitely not a household name on the political scene in the country, but Kemei, who is also a former High School teacher at Arya Girls, tried her luck in politics in 2017 under the Party of Democracy and Reform (PDR) but lost to Florence Bore, the out-going Kericho Woman Rep.
In an interview with a local FM radio, Kemei intimated that she feels good that she is unopposed in the County and not running up and down urging residents to vote in her favor promising to deliver to the residents to the best of her ability.
“In the 13th Parliament, I am 001 by the grace of God. I went to the race unopposed and I want to sincerely thank the people of Kericho for granting me an opportunity to represent them in the August House,” said Kemei.
She increased her chances of winning the hearts of area residents in 2019 during her appointment as the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy (REREC) director tasked to launch the last-mile connectivity in all six sub-counties of Kericho where over 1,000 families benefitted in areas such as Bureti, Soin/Sigowet, Belgut, and Kipkelion West.
“During my tenure, I will streamline the procurement process and provide financial and other support for organized groups and individuals,” she said.
Kemei who is a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Environmental Planning and Management from the University of Nairobi now awaits swearing-in when Parliament opens.
Other parliamentarians elected unopposed in past elections include Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.
By Kibe Mburu