Kenya: Why I'm Joining Politics – Sharon Otieno's Mother

When Mrs Melida Auma, the mother of slain Rongo University student Sharon Otieno joined politics earlier this year, she had anticipated a smooth sail, hinging her success chances on her support for Deputy President William Ruto and his United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
She had hoped that the DP and UDA would offer her some emotional and financial support after allegedly being frustrated by the Orange Democratic Movement leadership.
But the soft-spoken mother of four – who came to the limelight after the murder of her daughter whose body was found dumped in Oyugis, Homa Bay County on September 4, 2018 – is troubled and living in fear, thanks to her close association with the DP.
Mrs Auma, who is eyeing the Homa Bay Woman Representative seat, told Nation.Africa this week that she now fears for her life, with people demanding a share of ‘proceeds of the loot’ from the Deputy President’s visit in Nyanza last week.
The Homa Bay and Rangwe UDA coordinator said people think she was given money by Dr Ruto for ground mobilisation but she got nothing.
Mrs Auma, whose murdered pregnant daughter was said to be the girlfriend of Migori Governor Okoth Obado, a key supporter of the DP in Nyanza, says she and other party loyalists from the county had it rough during Dr Ruto’s visit.
She opens up to Nation.Africa about her political ambitions, her association with UDA and the DP, her fears, challenges and what drives her.
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What political seat are you vying for?
Homa Bay woman representative.
You had earlier indicated that you were vying for the Homa Bay Town West ward representative seat. Why the change of heart?
It was due to public demand that I vie for the county woman representative seat instead.
Why did you go into politics?
I was born in a political family. My sister-in-law, who lives in Migori, is a politician and is an aspiring MCA. Ms Agnes Awinja is the gender chief officer in Migori. I grew up with Ms Awinja and she inspires me a lot. I was also a student leader in college.
What informed your choice of a political party?
I was inspired by the United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA) bottom-up economic model, which advocates for hustlers. I consider myself a chief hustler from Homa Bay. Most Kenyans are struggling like me to earn a living.
Why UDA?
I joined UDA because the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) frustrated me when its leadership failed to honour their promises after the death of my first-born daughter Sharon Otieno. ODM has not fulfilled its promises made before Sharon’s burial. ODM politicians had promised not to abandon my family and Sharon’s children. They also promised legal support in Sharon’s murder case.
Governor Obado backs DP William Ruto’s presidential bid and is one of the suspects in your daughter’s murder, how comfortable are you in that camp?
My political ambition does not relate to Sharon’s death. When I joined UDA, I had no idea that Obado’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had links with DP Ruto. And even so, that has nothing to do with me.
Don’t you think your move and choice of political friends could jeopardise your daughter’s case?
Suppose my daughter died when I was a politician, does it mean my family could not have got justice? I do not believe that by joining politics my daughter will not get justice. If it was a politician’s daughter who died, would it mean that they relinquish their political positions? No, I do not think so.
We are aware some organisations that funded your advocates in the murder case are considering withdrawing their services because of your entry into politics, what’s your take?
My political ambitions are not in any way related to the case. Fida should not withdraw their legal support. And my interest in joining politics came long before Sharon’s death. It is only that I had not declared it. My joining politics is a dream come true and I have no regrets. I only pray that my daughter will finally get justice and that her killers will be brought to book.
Don’t you think this could deter your family’s quest for justice?
No, before joining politics, I consulted my family and they all support me. They know Sharon’s case has nothing to do with my political ambition. The case is in court and we believe justice will be served.
How does your husband feel about your political move?
There is nothing I have done on earth without informing and consulting my husband Douglas Otieno. He supports me fully. We are together in this and believe we will win.
Are you confident of winning or you are just looking for money, fame and attention, as some people have alleged?
I believe I will win. I have supporters and I believe they will not let me down. In UDA, there is no money for aspirants so there is no cash I am after. In fact, I have been using my resources to campaign and I am already doing well in grassroots mobilisation. In life, you don’t stick to one position, you embrace change and that is in my political bid. I know politics will change my life and that of my family.
Why do you want to run?
First, it is due to public demand. People from my ward first pushed me to run as their MCA, but we later agreed that I go for the woman representative seat because there is a big vacuum. I also want to vie for the political seat so as to change my life and that of my family. I want to grow economically and socially and live a better life.
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What’s driving you? Did you have political ambitions or is it your daughter’s death that propelled you?
I got interested in politics long before Sharon’s death. I am simply pursuing my dreams. I am sure if Sharon were alive, she would have supported me a lot. She would have been my chief campaigner. She was my friend and I was like her elder sister. We would have done this together.
What are your frustrations?
People think UDA has money and therefore have a lot of expectations. They also think the Deputy President gave me money when he recently visited Homa Bay. Some have even attacked me. For the record, I was allowed to the venue of the DP’s night meeting with his supporters after a long struggle despite being one of the organisers. I was allowed in at about 11pm and got there when the DP was winding up his speech.
I do not understand why it had to be such a struggle yet we invested our time and resources organising the tour. I had to be evacuated out of Cold Springs and taken to safety after people demanded that I give them money, something that I did not have. I fear for my security now. Even as I thank the DP for his visit, I urge him to come back to Homa Bay to empower the delegates too.
What do you intend to do for the people of Homa Bay?
If elected woman rep, I will do my legislative work accordingly, representation and oversight.
Read the original article on Nation.
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