Unity or competition? Tangatanga team makes an about-turn to embrace the rallies
There is palpable anxiety as allies of political rivals Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga congregate in Mombasa today for the BBI rally.
The rally at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park follows two others in Kisii and Kakamega where Raila’s allies had planned and dominated.
In the prelude of the meeting, close to 3,000 delegates, including MPs, governors, senators, MCAs and civil society activists from the Coast met at Wildwaters Centre in Mombasa to discuss and draft memorandum on economic marginalisation and historical land injustices to be presented to the BBI task force.
Raila, who arrived in Mombasa on Thursday, attended yesterday’s meeting at Wildwaters Centre besides governors Hassan Joho of Mombasa, Amason Kingi of Kilifi, Dhadho Godana of Tana River, Granton Samboja of Taita Taveta and Lamu’s Fahim Twaha.
The ODM leader said it took him and President Uhuru Kenyatta two meetings lasting 19 hours for them to come up with the nine-point agenda of the BBI and make a handshake outside Harambee House in Nairobi.
He dismissed those claiming the two leaders plotted to use the process to create positions for themselves in 2022.
“We did not discuss anything to do with President Kenyatta helping me become president and him becoming prime minister. This is propaganda by those opposed to the BBI process. We came up with BBI to unite Kenyans and not to create divisions,” he said.
The five governors told delegates that the conference and the rally were about consolidating Coast issues and not Tangatanga and Kieleweke political formations.
Joho called for meaningful conversations, warning those keen to cause chaos that they will not be condoned.
“We are not in a political competition. We don’t want heckling in our meetings. We are here because every view counts,” said the governor.
Kingi called for sobriety and urged those in attendance to be nationalistic and have the country at heart and not the political persuasions.
“If you came here donning Tangatanga and kieleweke hats, put them down. We are here as Coast people to craft our document for posterity,” he said.
Earlier, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Nyali counterpart Mohamed Ali held a press conference, which was disrupted by goons.
They then rushed to the Wildwaters Centre to join the rest of Coast delegates, saying they were ready to participate in a meeting that discussed the Coast agenda.
“Although we feel the BBI meetings are being secretly organised, we are determined to be part and parcel of any forum that discusses Coast issues,” said Ms Jumwa.
Also present were several MPs allied to Ruto, including Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Sharif Ali (Lamu East) and Stanley Muthama of Lamu West. Others were Lydia Haika (Taita Taveta), Naomi Shaban (Taveta) and Tana River Senator Wario Juma, also allied to the DP.
On Tuesday, 30 MPs allied to Ruto said they will join the rallies they had initially dismissed as a charade and a waste of time, throwing today’s rally into a spin.
Ruto had questioned the rationale of holding the rallies and the cost of running the meetings and his allies’ turnaround has raised the temperatures in what would have been a Raila-and-allies event.
In an interview with a local TV station on Thursday, Ruto said politicians have hijacked the Building Bridges Initiative process for political gain. He said he will fight schemes to create an “us versus them” situation.
Ruto said 90 per cent of people who have been attending the forums so far are ODM supporters.
“There is a scheme to adulterate and hijack the process to end up with a report Kenyans did not propose. Rallies may continue with all the drama but we must have in place a structure where ordinary people will have an opportunity to present their views,” he said.
Today’s meeting therefore will be a defining moment for the two teams who have traded barbs and sometimes bitter insults and whether they will gel after their tumultuous occasions.
Late yesterday, dozens of legislators from Central region, allied to President Kenyatta, had arrived in Mombasa for today’s rally.
According to Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, 35 MPs, including Kanini Kega (Kieni), Sabina Chege (Murang’a) and Jude Njomo (Kiambaa) will attend.
On Ruto side, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen will lead a team of 25 MPs for the rally.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa said they would be there to talk about unity of the country and what needs to be addressed to ensure economic prosperity.
“We will be in the Coast to join up with other Kenyans and talk about the unity of purpose and what needs to be done to improve the region,” said Ichungwa.
Governor Godhana urged residents to maintain the “Coast spirit” and shun those bent to disrupt the process.
In Nairobi, four MPs allied to Raila asked Ruto to apologise for allegedly opposing the BBI forums that he now wants to be part of. Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Anthony Oluoch (Mathare) and Mark Nyamita urged organisers of the Mombasa rally not to let Ruto allies dictate the process.
“They must apologise before joining us. Without apologies, let them sit as spectators in Tononoka,” said Osotsi.
He said Ruto is on record saying BBI forums were a waste of public funds and a scheme to take care of a few people and ignore majority of Kenyans.
Meanwhile, two MPs and a CAS told Ruto’s allies to prepare for a showdown in Mombasa today should they attack President Kenyatta and Raila.
Gender CAS Rachel Shebesh, Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga and Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi warned the DP allies asked the Tangatanga team to guard their speeches.
Speaking in Homa Bay town when they flagged off 240 youths who have been sponsored by National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF), Shebesh told Tangatanga MPs to attend the meeting “with manners”.
“I want to warn Murkomen and his group against insulting Uhuru and Raila because even I cannot insult Ruto,” she said.
[Jacob Ng’etich, Patrick Beja, James Omoro and Philip Mwakio]