Soon after his re-election as MP for Emuhaya, Kenneth Otiatso Marende was nominated by ODM and thereafter elected as Speaker of the National Assembly. Ironically, one of his first tasks as speaker will be to declare his own Emuhaya Parliamentary seat vacant.
Prior to his re-election as Emuhaya MP, Mr. Marende made history by being the first individual to be re-elected to serve two terms. Previous MPs have only served one term each. Emuhaya constituency is in Vihiga District of Western Province and has approximately 81,000 registered voters.
Among those who have declared their interest in the Emuhaya parliamentary seat is Eric Henry Marende on an ODM ticket. Incidentally, the ODM party secretariat is reporting an overwhelming interest in the Emuhaya parliamentary seat with up to 50 persons having expressed their interest so far.
In continuing with the Kumekucha policy of supporting young aspirants into positions of leadership in Kenya, Phil (Kumekucha) had a chance to talk to the young and ambitious politician and reproduces excerpts from the discussion.
All readers, particularly Emuhaya residents/voters, are encouraged to ask the aspirant relevant questions in the comments area as he will be visiting the site and responding to all queries in person.
Kumekucha: Please introduce yourself
Eric Henry Marende: My names are ERIC HENRY MARENDE an aspiring member of parliament for EMUHAYA constituency!!
Kumekucha: Tell us a little about your background (including professional experience).
EHM: I am a university graduate from the United States International University(U.S.I.U) Nairobi.
Politically, I have been involved in the party affairs since the LDP days. i was actively involved in the 2002 elections. when the NARC dream was not achieved and LDP moved out of NARC I remained with LDP. When ODM was formed after the referendum I joined and have been actively involved ever since.
Actually as of last year (2007) I was actively involved with a lobby group known as THE ODM PROFFESIONALS NETWORK. This lobby group was actively involved in reaching out to the professionals who do not normally go out to join the masses in the field because they are confined to their desks and they only communicate via email and phone calls. We were involved in activities such as gathering intelligence such as the hate leaflets that were intercepted and we promptly informed the party hierarchy who blew the whistle. We were also involved in organising for trade fairs and such like things and a good example is the visit by Hon. Raila to the Nairobi stock exchange where his visit quelled some jitters at the bourse. We were also involved in sponsoring advertisements in the media to counter negative propaganda towards ODM!!!
This we did in isolation as the ODM Professionals. Later on, we got word through our intricate network that the party was trying to bring all the lobby groups together like Divas for Raila, Young Kenyans for Raila, Young Professionals for Raila, Western Professionals for Raila, e-orange, etc. We took on this project and successfully brought these lobby groups or initiatives under the umbrella called THE COALITION OF ODM VOLUNTEERS.
We presented this to and were recognised by the ODM Presidential Think Tank chaired by Professor Edward Oyugi.
We also went ahead and set up a parallel call centre to back up the one that had been set up by the party. We presented this again to the think tank and they were impressed such that the party channel resources to assist us at the call centre. This was so effective such that our data was being used at the ECK Tallying Centre at KICC to challenge some disparities!! We had a network that ran all the way to the grassroots.
Even after the elections we still get intelligence reports which we promptly relay to the party, for example in the first week of January we got reports that the form 16 and 16A were being doctored at the KICC. We provided samples to the party since some of our members had been recruited by the ECK.
I may also add that I was seconded to one of the think tank committees that was headed by Mr.George Ongaya to handle matters that related to the call center.
Since all this is political i would like to keep my family affairs out of this. Probably what many voters would want to know is that I am single and profesionaly work for a travel management firm called CARLSON WAGONLIT that is wholly owned by BUNSON TRAVEL an industry leader in travel related services.
Kumekucha: What is your vision for Emuhaya?
EHM: My Vision is titled 'Emuhaya, aiming higher'. In a nutshell, I intend to cover the following.
Given the potential that already exists in Emuhaya, I envision the constituency as an economic powerhouse through tourism in the East Africa region.
Beginning at the micro-enterprise level, I shall partner with self help groups to develop micro finance programmes that will ensure that they get the opportunities and credit facilities required to turn their hard work and good ideas into a steady income.
Modernization of major markets will be explored in an effort to make them permanent, safer, cleaner and more established. Real economic prosperity can only be realized when wealth is distributed equitably and those living below the poverty line are uplifted. Providing economic opportunities will achieve just that.
In an effort to take Emuhaya to the next level, I shall play a leading role in positioning the constituency as a destination of choice for local tourism in an effort to bridge the current divisions being witneseed in the country. The result not only being the creation of an innovation center, but also a source of job and wealth creation.
The building of adequate infrastructure, setting up constituency wide centers of excellence, enhancing private / public partnerships, equipping schools with ICT, massive improvements in security as well as offering businesses incentives will be some of my priorities that will turn this vision into reality.
The time has come to reduce the cost of doing business in Kenya and giving the less fortunate an opportunity to succeed. We shall start in Emuhaya.
I strongly believe in developing and strengthening programmes targeted at the youth in order to enhance their economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities, to promote constructive social relations among them and to provide them with connections outside their communities to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.
Because of this, I shall give special priority in the design and implementation of policies that will help alleviate the challenges of long term unemployment and underemployment of my peers.
For every young person, a job offering decent work is an important step in completing the transition to adulthood, a milestone towards independence and self-reliance, a pillar in social development. My vision for the youth in Emuhaya therefore focuses on creating income-generating job and/or entrepreneurial opportunities for young people.
I shall work tirelessly with like minded leaders, to ensure that structures are put in place to assist the youth in developing skills needed to enable them to find or create gainful employment.
The message is clear! Our youth should no longer be used by self centered politicians to throw stones and participate in political hooliganism. Their energy, talent and numerical strength should instead be used as the pillars for nation building.
My vision for community development is the creation of opportunities that will empower the community both socially and economically. I shall pay special attention to the 9 wards within the constituency in an effort to ensure that homes and markets are humanitarian and include basic facilities such as toilets, water and adequate pathways.
I shall work with the people of Emuhaya in an effort to engage them in building the constituency in which they live and do business in. As stakeholders, the people will be included in decision making on matters that affect the constituency. Doing so will help create a more diverse constituency in which the ultimate winner will be the constituent.
As development of the constituency is pegged on development of the constituents, I envision community centers in each ward and various training programmes provided so as to equip constituents with the life skills needed to earn a better living. This initiative will cater to the widespread unemployment problem which in turn will reduce poverty, crime, drugs and disease.
I shall actively develop sports, music and entrepreneurship programs that will be geared towards developing talent as well as lend full support to micro enterprises such as income generating women, youth and welfare group projects.
As the next MP for Emuhaya, being accessible and having regular meetings with the community will give me a good idea on the priorities of the community's development.
Emuhaya constituency currently faces several challenges with regards to service delivery. Quality of education in the free primary school initiative has dropped tremendously, public schools (up to the University level) do not have adequate learning facilities, majority of the constituents either do not have access to basic healthcare or cannot afford it, roads are dilapidated, clean water is still a dream, insecurity a nightmare and the list goes on and on and on. It is unfortunate that with all the CDF money available, basic services are still inaccessible to the bulk of the population.
I envision Emuhaya Constituency as one of the leading constituencies when it comes to service delivery. I shall work to ensure that the people of Emuhaya get the services they pay for, from better education to better healthcare to better infrastructure.
To realize this vision, public education institutions will be equipped with reading materials and computers to the best extent possible, healthcare systems brought closer to the people and infrastructure (roads, market places, telecommunications, water etc) shall be improved.
As service delivery is the primary role of the political leadership, I shall break the culture of the people working for elected leaders and begin one in which elected leaders work for the best interests of the people.
Kumekucha: Thank you. Why did you choose to stand in Emuhaya?
EHM: I have my roots in Emuhaya. I also have a keen ineterst in the affairs of the people of Emuhaya and would like to see an improvement in the life of the locals.
Kumekucha: If you would finish these sentences, what would you add to them,
i) I wish more people would take notice of...........
ii) A common misperception I would like to correct is.......
EHM: I wish more people would take notice of…. young people especially the youth of this nation. they have been the main force in the struggle for justice in the many injustices commited aginst them. many lives have been lost and indeed continue to be lost in persuit of a better kenya. as young people we should keep the dreams and hopes of a better nation alive by getting actively involved in the affairs of our great nation. we should let the memories be our guide to remembering the values of our Kenyan people.
EHM: A common misperception I would like to correct is…. that young people cannot lead or are not ready for leadership positions. History has examples of leaders who emerged at quite an early stage. Tom Mboya is one such example. In the bible you have people like King David and Samuel who were anointed for leadership in their youthful years. I believe we (the youth) have been appointed by God, history and future generations to take on leadership.
Kumekucha: What bills, if any, would you propose in your first term in parliament?
- Hate speech legislation,
- Youth fund to be managed by professionals,
- Legislation that mandates private companies and public enterprises to employ the best candidates for the job but at the same time ensure equal representation in terms of gender and tribe!
Kumekucha: Which party ticket are you running on and why?
EHM: ODM (Orange Democratic Movement). This is because the party is committed to tackling tribalism and discrimination, expansion for employment, pursuit of policies of policies of equitable distribution of wealth and resources, dealing with insecurity, crime and lawlessness, improvement of social and physical infrastructure among many others.
Kumekucha: What do you like most about your country?
EHM: The economic and social potential.
Kumekucha: What do you like the least about your country?
EHM: Tribalism, corruption, bad governance especially because of the individuals and personalities who occupy these offices, the list is endless.
Kumekucha: Who in the history of Kenyan politics inspires you - a leader, whether in politics or outside of it?
EHM: Thomas Joseph Mboya. He was a leader who was brilliant and charismatic, infact he was nothing short of remarkable! He got involved in trade union activities at 22 years of age and by 28 he was elected chairman of the All-African Peoples Conference convened by Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana. Tom Mboya displayed leadership from quite an early age.
Outside of politics 2 people inspired me. One was my father and the other my grandfather, both are deceased!
Kumekucha: How are you funding your campaign?
EHM: My campaigns are being funded by family, friends and well wishers
Kumekucha: What word of encouragement would you give to other young candidates?
EHM: I would encourage young people to be engaged in public life and service because this is the only way we can change the status quo! as young people we need to position ourselves for change and we should speak in one voice to demand our rightful position in the countrys leadership. its our responsibility to take the country to the next level.
Kumekucha: What are you especially good at, why do people like you?
EHM: Well that is a hard question! I may say I am good at listening to other people. Other people have said they like me because am dependable, strong, and loyal.
Kumekucha: What is your proudest moment/ greatest achievement?
2002 elections when Kenyans elected a government unanimously as a people with disregard to tribe and affiliation. Back then, we as Kenyas achieved a lot as a democracy.
Kumekucha: What was the last book you read?
EHM: ‘INTO AFRICA’ which is a dramatic retelling of the Stanley-Livingstone story. It has been written by Martin Dougard.
Kumemucha: What do you think are your weaknesses?
Kumekucha: Have you ever run a business? Do you have any executive experience?
EHM: No I have not!
Kumekucha: What core ideas inform your politics?
EHM: Leadership that is accountable and transformative that fulfills expectations. I intend to provide a leadership with vision and to carry on what was intended for the people of Emuhaya by the former Member of Parliament and will be faithful and true to the interest f the constituents.
Kumekucha: What is your big idea for Kenya?
EHM: Good constitution that translates into good governance, a fair judicial system, equitable distribution of resources, efficient infrastructure, dependable healthcare, a relevant educational system and proper security for all.
Kumekucha: What in your views hurts Kenyans the most? What stands between them and progress?
EHM: Corruption, selfishness, greed, bad governance, the constitution. biased institutions that are supposed to facilitate progress are the major issues that stand between kenyans and progress.
Kumekucha: Do you think an MP, say an opposition MP, can make a difference in his constituency without the intervention of the Central Government?
EHM: Yes. By properly utilising the CDF a ripple effect will be transmitted to the locals in the constituency.
Kumekucha: For what would you utilize Constituency Development Funds (CDF) allocated to your constituency? What would be proper CDF priorities?
EHM: Housing, infrastructure, rural electrification, initiating proper healthcare initiatives, agriculture, education
Kumekucha: What special campaign stratagem do you employ in stead of loud noises and throwing money around?
EHM: Are you sure you want me to expose myself!!
Kumekucha: Not at all. Any other comments/message you have.
EHM: A common misperception I would like to correct is that young people cannot lead or are not ready for leadership positions.history has examples of leaders who emerged at quite an early stage. Tom Mboya is one such example. in the bible you have people like king david and samuel who were annointed to lead in their youthful years. i believe we have been appointed by God, history and future generations to take on leadership. (END)