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Down but not out: Fallen Coast leaders plot comeback

By PATRICK BEJA and BENARD SANGA | November 17th 2013 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

By PATRICK BEJA and BENARD SANGA

The March 4 General Election saw veteran politicians from Coast region felled by mostly newcomers in various elective posts.

But the political leaders who suffered defeat in the elections are busy re-inventing themselves.

A number of them are focusing their energies on business with others going back to class, all of them in preparation for the next elections.

Two bigwigs from the region – Najib Balala and Kazungu Kambi – were lucky to be among the only three politicians appointed to the Cabinet. The third politician in the Cabinet is embattled Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu.

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The political heavyweights who lost in the last elections are former MPs Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Matuga), Danson Buya Mungatana (Garsen), Ramadhan Seif Kajembe (Changamwe), Calist Mwatela (Mwatate), Dhadho Godhana (Galole), Fahim Twaha (Lamu West), Omar Zonga (Msambweni) and Ben Gunda (Bahari).

Retreated to Nairobi

“I spend most of my time with my family but I’m also studying for two degrees in Europe. I’m doing a degree in Development Studies and another in Leadership as I aim for a bigger political position in the next elections,” said Godhana.

The former Galole MP says he is also in the hospitality and mining business both in Kenya and Tanzania though he would not divulge more details on his enterprise.

Mr Mwakwere lost the race for the Kwale senatorial seat to Boy Juma Boy, a former MP.

Mwakwere, who was a Cabinet minister in the grand coalition government says he has retreated to Nairobi where he is “reflecting and also doing business”.

“After the polls, I decided to move to Nairobi to run my private business. What is more important now is unity of the Coast, particularly among the Mijikenda,” said Mwakwere, former Matuga legislator who was fondly referred to as Dzipapa (big shark) by his acquaintances.

Mwakwere served in Parliament for 10 years and was widely tipped to walk into the Jubilee Cabinet but instead President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto settled on Mr Kambi, also from the dominant Giriama sub-tribe of the Mijikenda.

Mr Twaha who lost his bid for Lamu gubernatorial race to newcomer Mr Issa Timamy returned to the University of Nairobi last month to pursue a degree in law, saying he wanted to spend his time well out of Parliament as he plans for the next polls.

But Twaha has a chance to try to capture the seat after a Malindi court nullified the election of Issa Timamy in the March 4 gubernatorial race.

“The court has done justice to Lamu residents. We are going to come up with a strategy to win the seat because our chances are high there,” said Twaha.

Twaha is a farmer in Kilifi County and also has interests in the export and import business.

He served as Lamu West MP between 1997 and 2013.

Justify salaries

Mr Mungatana, the outspoken former Garsen MP who lost the contest for the Tana River governor’s seat to newcomer Hussein Dado, said although he had retreated to Nairobi, his diary was full even as he plans for the next polls.

He chairs the board of an electronic company, sits as a director in firms doing supplies, practices law and juggles business with politics back in Tana River County.

“I still go back to Tana River County, meet people and conduct harambees. Although I stay in Nairobi I am still active in politics,” he says.

He faults MPs and senators for engaging in supremacy wars at the expense of their legislative duties even after negotiating a hefty pay package for themselves.

In his characteristic fighting spirit,

Mungatana told governors to accept working with county commissioners and each party to concentrate on their mandate.

“There is too much work to do for the MPs, senators, governors and county commissioners. They cannot afford to engage in endless wrangles. The politicians never said they would engage in wars when they campaigned. They should justify the generous salaries and perks they have demanded,” Mungatana says.

Earlier this year, Mungatana led failed efforts to unify TNA and URP into one party where it was alleged he was to be spokesman.

Mr Kajembe who is ODM national vice chairman and Mombasa branch chairman says he has taken a low profile in politics to rest after the political contest.

Heavy spending

“The election campaigns were tough and draining and it is time to have a rest. I also spend my time in running my private businesses,” Kajembe says.

The former Changamwe MP lost the Mombasa senatorial race to youthful politician Hassan Omar Hassan Sarai of Wiper Democratic Movement.

Kajembe had a chequered political career when he presented Changamwe in Parliament between 1997 and 2013.

Before going to Parliament, he served as a councillor for 15 years at the Mombasa municipal council and considered himself the senior most politician in the county.

The competitive election campaigns were characterised by heavy spending with unconfirmed claims that politicians in the region could have spent a whooping Sh1 billion in the polls.

From the region, three politicians survived the March 4, 2013 general elections. These are Naomi Shaban of (Taveta MP), Gonzi Rai (Kinango MP) and Lamu Senator Abu Chiaba who represented Lamu East constituency in Parliament for 10 years.


THE STANDARD INSIDER

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