That politics is a dirty game is just but stereotype, Linda Shuma, Mombasa Governor Wiper Party hopeful Hassan Omar’s running mate believes.
Ms Shuma says she got into politics after serious soul searching and realising that it does not change anything for people to keep complaining about bad leadership.
A graduate of United States International University (USIU) where she studied Business Administration with a minor in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Ms Shuma is a hotelier and community worker besides running a catering and events management business.
“There is need to be accountable in everything and I don’t believe that politics is a dirty game. We are all in the game one way or another and it’s upon us to clean up the mess,” the 39-year-old told the Nation in an interview.
“People ask me how I got into politics and I tell them I have been a politician nearly all my life, only that now I am going public. We live in a society where you always need to influence policy, which is politics.
“But it reaches a point that one has to influence public policy in order to have an impact in the lives of citizens,” she said.
As one of the only female running as a deputy governor in the Coastal region, the youthful professional says she’s ready to take the dirty game of politics, “head on”.
“To start with, I agreed to run with Mr Omar because he has an impressive track record in running institutions. He believes in equity and transparency and we will work together to inject a clean and fresh leadership in Mombasa county,” she said.
According to her, her work with the community in Kisauni and Changamwe over the past three years has exposed her to people of different cadres that she expects will boost Mr Omar’s candidature.
The two areas are populous and viewed as crucial for any candidate who hopes to win the Mombasa Governorship.
“Linda’s work experience ranges from hospitality at the Carnivore and Simba Saloon to involvement in civil transformation processes while at the Constitution of Kenya Review Committee (CKRC),” said Mr Omar.
Ms Shuma is also a member of Lions Club International and is the current president of the Lions Club of Mombasa Bahari and Mr Omar expects that her experience in working with the community would boost the Wiper team.
She pledged to ensure policies to improve the tourism sector were put in place and that Mombasa’s glory as a tourism hub is restored by clearing up garbage and marketing the destination aggressively.
As deputy governor, she says, she would ensure quality education and healthcare are prioritised.
The choice of Ms Shuma Mr Omar’s running mate has elicited mixed reactions from various political fronts.
But the fact that all governor candidates have chosen somebody from the Mijikenda community for the deputy position, might work against the candidates, according to political analysts.
The contest for the Mombasa governor is pitting incumbent Hassan Joho (Orange Democratic Movement), Suleiman Shahbal (Jubilee Party), Hezron Awiti (Vibrant Democratic Party) and Mr Omar.
All the candidates have chosen a member of the Mijikenya community to be their running mate —Anania Mwaboza (Jubilee), and Hassan Mwamtoa, Mr Atiti’s deputy and Mr Joho’s William Kingi.
However, according to analysts, the fact that all the candidates have chosen from the same pool has diluted the Mijikenda as an important factor in unlocking the swing vote.
“There now needs to be something more fresh in the winning ticket,” says University of Nairobi political science lecturer Geoffreyson Khamala.
“The fact that Mr Omar has chosen somebody who is not a politician brings freshness in this candidature. It is in the same line as the Sonko and Igathe combination for the Nairobi County,” he said.
Nairobi senator Mike Sonko picked Mr Polycarp Igathe, former managing director Vivo Energy Kenya as his running mate, in what has been billed as injection of professionalism in the management of county affairs.
However, speaking during Ms Shuma’s unveiling ceremony, Mr Omar, an ardent critic of the politics of ethnic combinations, was hard pressed to explain that his choice was not based on “ethnic arithmetic”.
“When we were making this choice, many people advised me to look at the tribal arithmetic but I believed that the right person was a woman of integrity,” he said.
“My government will comprise 50 per cent of women because I know that women are performers and great leaders in the society and should be given a chance,” added the Wiper secretary general.
In selecting a woman where all the candidates have appointed men, Mr Omar had demonstrated he was committed to gender equity which had injected some “freshness” in the Wiper politics, according to Mr Khamala.
“Despite other factors to consider, this in my view adds mileage that propels Omar to the second position behind Joho. If you ask me, he is the most likely candidate to turn the tables on the incumbent,” he said.