Strong-arm tactics employed by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to tame party dissidents, and superiority battles in Deputy President William Ruto’s team have slowed down his forays into the coastal region.
The DP launched campaigns in the Coast after the March 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, gaining support of several local Orange party MPs.
MPs who coalesced around Ruto appear to have either gone mum, become non-committal on his 2022 presidential bid or returned to ODM.
Some of the so-called ODM rebels now say they are working with Ruto in the spirit of the handshake to unite Kenyans and take development to their people.
In 2014, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and former Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro were Ruto’s people in Coast politics, but Jumwa dashed back to ODM ahead of 2017 elections.
Munga’ro and a host of MPs who remained in Jubilee were swept out of office by the ODM wave during the elections.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi have declared interest in the 2022 presidential contest and observers say they have to protect their turf from ‘outside’ forces.
“Any coastal political leader who shall be used as a broker or a mouthpiece to advance the interests of other political leaders at the expense one of their own will be on their own,” Kingi says.
The governor says unlike in the past elections, the Coast will approach 2022 with great caution and wisdom, adding that the region is determined to tackle issues affecting the residents.
“I will not take instructions from any voice outside the region unless the voice has been properly and carefully weighed and found to be consistent with the interests of the coastal people,” says Kingi when asked whether he will support the DP.
He says Coast leaders will engage leaders from other regions as an equal partners.
“Coast shall approach the national political table and sit to negotiate as an equal partner unlike in the past when the national menu hardly contained issues that are close to the hearts of our people,” he says.
Kingi’s remarks resonate with sentiments of both Jubilee and ODM leaders in the region, with those close to Ruto adopting a softer stand in their support for DP.
“Time for politics will come and I will make the decision then,” says Kaloleni MP Paul Katana. He has unequivocally backed Ruto’s presidential bid.
“Our party leader has not told us not to work with the DP. We cannot talk of building the bridges but throw away the culverts. I urge politicians in the region to respect each other.”
Lawyer and political analyst Yusuf Abubakar says Joho and Kingi must keep Ruto at bay and protect their strong base if they want to be relevant in 2022 politics.
“They all know that if Ruto captures a certain segment of the Coast votes, then it will weaken their bargain in national politics,” Abubakar says.
In a bid to tame Ruto, ODM has flexed its muscles against its MPs supporting him.
In July, the ODM disciplinary committee recommended the expulsion of Jumwa and Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori.
The committee then pardoned Dori but expelled Jumwa, but she was saved by the Political Parties Tribunal that overturned the decision.
The summonses and subsequent expulsion sent fears at the Coast, with some of the leaders who had joined Ruto’s camp quickly retreating to ODM and swore their unwavering loyalty to Raila and the party.
In Mombasa County, Mohamed Ali (Nyali, independent), Ali Mbogo (Kisauni, Wiper) and Badi Twalib (Jomvu, ODM) had openly declared their support for Ruto.
Mbogo, who is nursing gubernatorial ambitions, is now rooting for a political pact between Joho, Kingi and Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya to lead the region and give direction for 2022.
“We have three senior governors serving their last terms who should come together and show us the way. If we go to the 2022 polls divided, we will be left out in the next government,” Mbogo says.
Ali fiercely opposes Joho, saying he does not qualify to run for president because of his record in Mombasa. Ali instead backs Ruto “to get development for my people”.
Other MPs Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Asha Hussein (Woman Rep) and Mohamed Faki (ODM) have remained loyal to Joho.
Interestingly, Suleiman Shahabal, who was the campaigner for Uhuru and Ruto in 2017 has also vowed to support Joho if he contests in 2022.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says he will make his political stand known in 2021.
In Kilifi County, Jumwa (Malindi), Owen Baya (Kilifi North) and Katana (Kaloleni) have declared their support for Ruto before, but they have softened their stand since, with Baya and Katanga declaring that they are solidly in ODM.
Kilifi Senator Stewart Mwadzayo, MPs Ken Chonga (Kilifi South), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), William Kamoti (Rabai) and Michael Kingi (Magharini) support Joho or Kingi.
In Kwale County, Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari and his Matuga counterpert Kassim Tandaza have left Ruto’scamp, with Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Dori going mum on the campaigns.
Kwale Senator Juma Boy and Woman Rep Zuleikha Hassan are still loyal to Raila and ODM.
Hassan refused to be drawn into 2022 politics, saying it is time to serve.
In Taita Taveta County, a majority of leaders have remained silent on the debate between Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke.
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