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Politicians troop back to regions as push for party seats hots up

By BY BENARD SANGA and TOBIAS CHANJI | January 18th 2014
Mombasa county governor Hassan Joho


KENYA: ODM leaders at the Coast are geared to fully participate in the party’s national elections despite calls by some for a new political outfit in the region.

Despite the dalliance with Jubilee leaders and calls for a separate political party, Coast ODM leaders have refuted claims they have severed links with ODM.

Some are, however, yet to clear the  perception that they are either leaning towards the ruling Jubilee coalition or are ready to ditch ODM. Only two leaders from the region have publicly declared their candidacy in next month’s elections.

Analysts say the two — Agnes Zani, a nominated senator from Kwale, and Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho — have high chances of clinching the posts they are running for.

Joho wants to be ODM vice chairman while Dr Zani is eyeing the secretary general’s seat. Reports indicate that Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi is interested in the post of deputy party leader.

Joho, Zani and Kingi have been categorical in their support of the ODM party for long. Joho’s mobilisation prowess for ODM since 2005 has not been in doubt.

Dr Zani immediately embarked on a campaign to clinch the secretary general’s seat after she announced her interest last Friday.

 “Given my professional background and expertise, I feel that I have what it takes to revamp the party by injecting freshness and new ideas that will propel it to greater heights in the political landscape and in the social and economic development of this great country,” Dr Zani said as she unveiled her campaigns in Nairobi.

She will face off with among others Siaya Senator James Orengo and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba following the withdrawal of current ODM chairman Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o.

Reports indicate that Dr Zani enjoys the support of ODM’s top hierarchy and delegates across Kenya. She has not jumped to the bandwagon of those calling for a new political party at the Coast.

Regional front

Joho, who holds the post of National Organising Secretary, is highly respected in ODM’s national and regional hierarchy and many attribute the party’s good performance in the region in last year’s general election to his mobilisation and commitment.

His closeness to party leader Raila Odinga and other party bigwigs in CORD is not in doubt. He has not wavered or engaged in doublespeak in his commitment to ODM since 2005 and is unlikely to bolt out any time soon.

“We are ready to support him because as we have indicated we will adopt a regional front in any issue that we feel will benefit us as the region,” Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime said on Friday.

Joho’s supporters also believe that many of the tribulations he has faced are engineered by Jubilee operatives who are frustrated by the governor’s steadfastness in CORD.

ODM Chief Whip and Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro says all candidates interested in party positions will have to contest, adding that there will be no slots reserved for anybody as was the case in the last party elections.

Mung’aro, who has led the calls for a regional party, has not announced a departure from ODM which remains strong in Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi counties. He is expected to seek a national post in the ODM polls.
“Whoever is interested should  declare their interest because it is one thing to announce that you intend to contest and another to come up with a winning strategy,” Mung’aro said in a telephone interview.
Early this week, Kilifi Women’s Representative Aisha Katana said Coast leaders are still in ODM. “We are still in ODM and we will support colleagues who are keen to contest,” she said.
The MP said many ODM delegates at the Coast have resolved to support Joho’s bid in whichever post he wishes to contest.
However, Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi said party delegates in the region have not met to discuss the party elections. Mwinyi said he was weighing his chances for the Deputy Secretary’s post.
Meanwhile, ODM delegates from Kwale County have resolved to support Dr Zani’s quest for the secretary general’s seat.
Speaking in Kwale yesterday, the delegates said the post is open for contest by any party member and is not a preserve of any region.
“The seats are for all Kenyans and this time round we are not going to be like mangoes to be bought by any one,” said Hamis Rachuo, a delegate.
Rashid Hamisi, the Matuga Sub branch ODM Organising Secretary, said it is high time other regions supported someone from the Coast.

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