Despite their many legal problems, Nyali MP Hezron Awiti Bolo and Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho are going for each other’s throat in a vicious political fight, threatening to dismember CORD in Mombasa.
After consolidating support of most MPs in Mombasa, Joho, suddenly found himself saddled with a new legal problem when he appeared on the so-called “List of Shame” over corruption allegations, which he has dismissed.
Awiti of Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) was recently linked to a killer lead factory in Mombasa. Early this year, he was charged for alleged failure to remit statutory deductions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). Awiti denies these charges and blames his new tribulations on political rivals.
Amid these developments, he declares that he wants to be Mombasa Governor, and blames the onslaught against him in the media and a recent invasion of his rally at Uwanja wa Mbuzi in Nyali on his political rivals.
To make matters worse for CORD, reports indicate that the naming of Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and several local leaders to high posts in WDM has jolted ODM as Ford Kenya demands a parliamentary seat in Mombasa in the 2017 polls.
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Critics believe Awiti is trying to fight his rivals by stoking religious and tribal tensions, blaming his troubles on others and shifting attention from the lead poisoning scandal and his troubles with the Nyali Constituency Development committee.
Meanwhile, top CORD leaders are becoming increasingly worried about the split between Awiti and Joho and the rumoured cold war between the governor and Senator Hassan Omar.
Stung by the squabbling, Siaya Senator James Orengo and his Machakos counterpart Johnstone Muthama, who sit on CORD’s top decision-making organ, recently flew to Mombasa to reconcile the warring leaders and stem the intra-CORD acrimony.
“We were in Mombasa on development issues, to discuss the Coast Development Authority. It is true we met Joho but we did not discuss political issues,” Orengo said yesterday, admitting that CORD leaders are keen to stem a split within affiliate parties in Mombasa.
The Senator disclosed that he will travel to Mombasa on Tuesday to “find out what is going on in the CORD family in Mombasa.”
Last week, Awiti wrote a highly volatile letter to CORD principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula, accusing Joho of refusing to meet him to discuss development and sidelining his Nyali constituency in county allocations. In the letter, Awiti called for intervention of the three leaders a week after performing a stunt outside the Governor’s office accompanied by hundreds of supporters.
Now he says he is more determined to become governor. “I have already completed my ground work at the grassroots level and that is why I have gone public that I want to be the governor of Mombasa,” said Awiti on Friday.
Joho has avoided talking about Awiti in public or answering the Nyali MP’s claims. Instead, he also appears set on his re-election bid, meeting Christians, Muslims and cultural leaders.
He recently appeared to warn residents against an “unnamed politician” he accused of trying to rise to power by stocking sectarian and tribal tension. “Communities in Mombasa, the indigenous and migrants, have lived together peacefully for decades. Any leader trying to incite people on tribal and religious lines is out of order,” the governor said.
Awiti says his quest to be Mombasa governor is motivated by his fight for those he alleges have been marginalised, and who he says are many in his constituency.
But last Sunday, Joho told church leaders and activists he was ready to allow an audit of workers in his administration to prove he has pursued non-biased employment policies irrespective of race, tribe and religion.
“I urge Christians to pray for peace and stand against terrorism. Do not be divided along religious or tribal lines in a place which hosts some of the oldest mosques and churches and where religions have co-existed for many years,” Joho said.
During a church service in Migadini, Mombasa, last Sunday, Joho paraded four of five Christians in his cabinet. According to recent National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) findings, the Mombasa Public Service Board has three Swahilis and one each from Mijikenda, Arab and Luo.
Ethnic Mijikenda, who have 1,551 posts in the county government or 41.5 per cent of the workforce, were allocated 39.6 per cent of new appointments made after the 2013 general elections.
However, Awiti says Joho’s policies are responsible for unemployment and insecurity in Nyali.
“It is now too much. Some youths are demanding payment from motorists and for any meeting to take place in Kisauni,” said the MP, who, however, commends Joho for fostering peace between religions.
The Nyali MP denies rallying tribes, especially ethnic Luo, in his bid to become governor. “That is propaganda. In fact, the Luo youths are the ones who stoned me at Uwanja wa Mbuzi at Kongowea in my constituency,” he said.
Joho retains the support of most elected and nominated ward representatives in Mombasa. Hassan Mwakimako, a political analyst, warns that the ongoing squabble between ODM and WDM leaders in Mombasa could be counterproductive for CORD.
Dr Mwakimako argues that fall outs within CORD in Mombasa are not new as Joho allegedly forced Awiti and Hassan out of ODM in the run up to the 2013 polls.
“Awiti and Hassan have not forgiven Joho for what happened in 2013 during the party nominations and that is why they will never agree. It was just a matter of time (before they disagreed),” he said.
Joho preferred former Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe for Senator and John Mcharo for the Nyali seat. Mwakimako says that although Joho will still have advantage over any candidate because ODM in the event of a split, he will have to fight very hard to counter a joint force of Hassan and Awiti.
Likoni MP Masood Mwahima insist that the fight for the Mombasa governor seat will not split CORD because its supporters are loyal.
Mwahima, a die hard Raila supporter, has however not been in good books with Joho whom he accuses of grooming Mombasa County MP Mishi Mboko to take over Likoni in 2017, a seat that Ford Kenya is also said to be eyeing.