Earlier this year, Charity Ngilu, Kenya’s health minister, announced she was running for president of Kenya in this year’s general election. Since then, she has come under criticism for her comments about President Mwai Kibaki’s government, describing it as corrupt and arrogant. Some of her fellow cabinet members described her as inconsistent and a double speaker.
But Ngilu, who first ran for president in 1997 as a candidate for the National Party of Kenya, told VOA she is running for president again to change Africa’s image as a continent of bad leaders.
“I believe very strongly that part and most of the problems that we are experiencing in the African continent is a result of bad management of the affairs of our nations. I do believe that if all the resources that we get in the African continent, and in particular in our country were properly managed, we would see a difference in the lives of our people. African people are suffering due to bad leadership. And therefore I do think that this is something somebody who has a clear focus, clear vision for their country can do so, and I believe I do have that,” she said.
Ngilu said the time has come for Kenyans to elect a woman president.
“I believe that Kenya is ready for a good leader, somebody who would show that they can make a difference. I have been now a minister for health for the last four years and four months, and we have made a big difference in the health sector in this country. So I do believe that Kenyans would be looking at somebody who can deliver, and especially on the promises that they make. I also believe that leaders must be held accountable and must be ready to be asked for what they promised. For that reason I think that Kenya would be ready to have a woman in top leadership in this country,” Ngilu said.
She said Africa is not developing fast enough because more women have not been in leadership, sitting at the table where decisions are made.
Ngilu was strongly criticized by some of her fellow women cabinet members for her criticism of President Mwai Kibaki’s coalition government in which she serves. Some have even called on her to resign from the government. But Ngilu said she criticized the government because some members decided to deviate from the original agenda.
“We were working very well together as a coalition until some members of the coalition decided that they wanted to work on their own, and they do not want to further the manifesto that we together worked on and said that this is what we want to give you Kenyans. So when I say this is not good, they say if you are not satisfied, then you should resign from the same government. And I say I’m do not have to resign for saying what is right, for saying that I will continue to fight for justice and fairness,” Ngilu said.