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Coast leaders uneasy ahead of muguka talks

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir (right) with Kisauni MP Rashid Benzimba at the governor's radio station in Mombasa County on Wednesday 29th May 2024, where he said his businesses are being targeted because of his Muguka ban. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Coast leaders have struck a pessimistic tone on planned talks with President William Ruto over muguka ban.

Deputy Majority Leader in the National Assembly Owen Baya says the Head of State was unlikely to change his mind.

In May, Ruto said muguka was legal and overturned the decision by a section of Coast governors to prohibit the transportation, sale and consumption of muguka in their counties.

“I know the president’s position. He recently gave muguka sector Sh500 million,” said Baya, who is Kilifi MP and a close ally of President Ruto.

Baya said he will rally the MPs to expunge the muguka from the Crop Act, 2022.

After an eight-hour closed-door meeting on Thursday, Coast leaders across the political divide backed the ban on muguka ahead of Monday talks with Ruto.

Governors, senators, MPs, and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) from the six counties who met in Mombasa said they will not be intimidated to lift the ban on the stimulant blamed for destroying the youth.

However, we established that the leaders were prepared for a showdown with the president and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi. Both Ruto and Linturi have supported the sale of the stimulant, saying it is legal.

If their case to ban the stimulant is rejected, Coast leaders said they will launch a campaign against muguka in the six counties. Others are said to be planning to recruit vigilante groups to stop the entry of muguka to their regions.

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro, chair of the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP), said the State House has confirmed the meeting with Ruto, who is expected to start the Coast tour on Monday.

“Will put our facts on the table on the devastating effects of the stimulant on our people. Muguka is banned in Kilifi and we will mobilise our people to enforce the ban,” said Mung’aro.

Lamu Governor Issa Timamy said Coast leaders will advance the muguka agenda together and sensitise the people on the effect of the stimulant.

Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana said nothing good for the Coast would come out of the talks given that Ruto had already taken a stand on the matter. He said muguka will remain banned in Coast regardless of the outcome of the talks. 

“Ruto is a politician and we don’t expect we will win. Whatever he does is up to him but we cannot be forced to do what we do not like,” said Godhana.

He said Tana River County was the first to ban muguka during the Covid-19 period.

“The ban has not been lifted,” said Godhana, adding that most Coast people have supported the move.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir said medical tests established that the cathine and cathinone found in muguka and miraa are illegal.

Nassir said the order banning the transportation, sale, and consumption of muguka in Mombasa still stands and will not change despite meeting with Ruto on Monday.

“It is our purview to stop muguka from entering into the six counties in the region. As governors, our stand remains that we would not allow something destroying our kids to be sold here,” said Nassir.

Kwale Deputy Governor Chirema Kombo said that Kwale began the fight on muguka in 2016 but did not win because of the national laws that classify it as a cash crop.

“We need unity as a region without any political divide. We don’t anticipate winning but is the journey of fighting muguka. We need politics and legal tactics to deal with the issue of muguka,” said Kombo.

MPs Badi Twalib and Omar Mwinyi supported the ban and called for legal backing to counter the national legislation. 

Baya asked the Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime to ensure that the vehicles transporting muguka are stopped at Mtito Andei and Samburu and seal all the routes in Lungalunga, Samburu, and Ganze.

Former Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim said he would rally all leaders from Wajir, Mandera, and Garissa to support the ban. Maalim said that any governor or leader not supporting the muguka ban will not be elected come 2027.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko said she was pessimistic about the Monday meeting with Ruto because he had already taken a stand.

Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu said they will burn vehicles ferrying muguka if Ruto insists on having it sold in Coast.

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