Jumwa faces isolation as political rift widens

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa at a Mombasa Court. [Kelvin Karani]

A section of Kilifi leaders is scheming to isolate Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, sparking speculation about her political future.

Even before the courts settle her legal battle sparked by the tragedy at the home of Ganda Ward ODM candidate Reuben Katana in which his uncle Ngumbao Jola died, Ms Jumwa is facing backlash from leaders in her backyard.

For close to two years the MP and a section of elected Coast leaders have rallied behind Deputy President William Ruto, traversing the region castigating Orange Democratic Movement. Jumwa and Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori became the face of rebellion in ODM and Ruto’s biggest supporters in Coast.

They were targeted by the party for disciplinary action and Dori decided to go slow on the anti-ODM drive in Coast while Jumwa has remained put singing Ruto praises after declaring interest in the Kilifi gubernatorial seat.

Against the wishes

Local politics, rivalry among Ruto’s allies in Coast and the Malindi MP’s declaration to enter the gubernatorial race against wishes of most leaders served to fuel disaffection against her.

Jumwa’s abrasive style and belief that Ruto favours her over other leaders widened the estrangement and in due course most DP allies began to miss his rallies, eventually leaving the MP to sing his praises.

During the recent Ganda Ward by-election, CAS Gideon Mung’aro campaigned for the ODM candidate exposing the waning influence of Ruto in the region.

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Yet Jumwa remains a formidable politician - vocal with a stupendous presence and capacity for rubble rousing- the kind every politician aspiring to gain influence in the region would love to embrace.

But the Malindi MP’s former allies who until recently were in Ruto’s camp are uncomfortable with her conduct and are spearheading the efforts to isolate her.

Magarini MP Michael Kingi and his Kilifi North counterpart Owen Baya have launched the drive to push her to the periphery of the region’s politics.

The Kilifi leaders have claimed that Jumwa is hostile and combative and they cannot tolerate her style of politics. They have vowed to ensure Ms Jumwa does not ‘control’ the politics of Kilifi County.

Also in the anti-Jumwa camp are former Malindi MP Willy Mtengo and Jubilee politician Philip Charo.

The Malindi MP who has kept a low profile after her arrest and failure by her preferred candidate Abdulrahman Omar (independent candidate) to win the October 17 Ganda ward by-election declined to answer our phone calls and SMS. 

But Jomvu MP Badi Twalib maintained that Ms Jumwa was at the centre of Coast politics and has not been isolated in any way.

“She has not been isolated by anyone. She talks and interacts as usual with other Coast MPs. Everything is normal in her relationship with her colleagues,” said Twalib who is in the Ruto camp.

Kaloleni MP Paul Katana dismissed claims that Jumwa was facing political backlash saying no elected leader was a prefect of the other.

“I am busy doing my duties for the people of Kaloleni. I will do my politics in 2022 God willing. For now, my focus is on development,” Katana noted.

Pundits, however, believe that Jumwa is playing the characteristic Kenyan politics with the necessary zeal and abrasiveness that seeks to unsettle politicians eyeing the Kilifi gubernatorial race to succeed governor Amason Kingi of ODM and hence the new efforts to scuttle her efforts.

Mr Baya noted that the Ganda poll victory ended politics of hooliganism and chest-thumping in the county. “Ganda has spoken on behalf of Kilifi and Coast that whoever wants to change the popularity of ODM through hooliganism and money will not succeed,” he said.

However, the MCA said they still recognise Jumwa as one of their own and she was free to “repent and come back” to ODM as their sister.

Baya told Saturday Standard on phone that anyone who is not in ODM cannot purport to control Kilifi County politics and urged those who use money to win the support of residents to instead working with the party.

Magarini MP Kingi claimed that the Malindi legislator was being used by some politicians from Nairobi to control the politics of Kilifi County which he said remained an ODM zone. Mr Kingi declared that people from outside Kilifi County have no say in the politics of the area and must either engage the local leadership or fail.

“In Kilifi county politics the people decide their political destiny.  If you use money to change the political direction you will not succeed,” he observed.

Jumwa who used the Ganda Ward by-election to test flex her political muscles has positioned herself as Ruto’s Coast leadlight.

Pwani University lecturer Hassan Mwakimako argued that Kilifi politicians particularly Mr Baya were facing the biggest challenge from Jumwa as she raises her stakes ahead of the gubernatorial race.

“What is clear now is that Kilifi politicians have ganged up against Jumwa because she poses a challenge to anyone seeking to be governor particularly Baya who has shown interest in the position,” said Prof Mwakimako.

He, however, said after her man lost the Ganda poll, the Malindi MP has to go to the drawing board and build her political muscle and network afresh to win in Kilifi and also solidify Ruto’s support.

Interpreted differently

“The loss of the Ganda seat does not ruin Jumwa’s career but it simply shows the battle ahead of her is tough and she has to build her political machine afresh,” he noted.

But he warned the abrasive politics for a Giriama woman could be interpreted differently in some quarters and turn into a disadvantage as it goes against cultural values.

Political analyst Ms Maimuna Mwidau echoed Prof Mwakimako’s sentiment saying that although Jumwa failed to capture the Ganda seat she has sent out a strong message and made a mark in Kilifi politics.

“She is playing the Kenyan politics of the moment with the same zeal she sang the Baba (Raila) tune. If she had won the Ganda poll, she would have made a bid influence and even tilted the political ground in Kilifi and Coast. But she still remains a big asset for Ruto and keeps his politics alive at the Coast,” Ms Mwidau said.

Ms Mwidau noted that the Coast politics may not have changed much but Jumwa could eat into Raila’s popularity in the region.

“She is being condemned because she made a mark as a brave woman. It is why Kilifi politicians are ganging up against her,” she said.

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Malindi MP Aisha JumwaDeputy President William RutoKilifi