How Joho succession and vacant post have split ODM in Mombasa

A view of Orange Democratic Movement office at Tom Mboya memorial hall along Jomo Kenyatta Avenue in Mombasa. March 21, 2021. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

A fierce power struggle has erupted in ODM’s Mombasa office.

The clash that has seen two camps emerge has been linked to the succession of Governor Hassan Joho, who is serving his final term in office, and replacement of ODM’s county chairman Mohamed Hatimy, who died last year.

Two factions have since opened parallel offices. One is based at the late Hatimy’s office at Ganjoni while the other has opened a new one at Tom Mboya.

Hatimy, a nominated MCA and an ally of both ODM leader Raila Odinga and Joho, died of Covid-19 in November last year.

Yesterday, Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki said local ODM leaders only recognise the office Hatimy occupied. He said Hatimy will be replaced through consensus.

“We will not hold an election to replace Hatimy. We are holding talks after the party gave us a green light to choose his replacement,” said Faki.

Mombasa Woman Rep Asha Hussein confirmed that the party was split and called on the leadership of ODM to intervene.

“I know a parallel office has been opened but I recognise the old one that was led by Hatimy. However, I’m not aware if the party wants us to appoint a county chairman,” said Hussein.

But those behind the newly-opened office claim some forces in the old office were out to influence election of the county chairperson with a view of seeking to control party primaries for 2022 election.

“Before the ODM recruitment drive starts, members should be given an opportunity to elect the new county chairperson in broad daylight. Nobody should impose anyone on us,” said party member James Ongilo, an ally of Raila in Mombasa.

He said some members decided to open a second office “so they can speak freely on issues affecting them and the party without undue influence from outgoing officials who are keen to muzzle dissenting voices in the party”.

A fortnight ago, Ongila and several other ODM members opened the new office located at the Tom Mboya Memorial Hall along Jomo Kenyatta Avenue next to Makupa Police Station.

The other ODM office in Mombasa is based at Ganjoni Estate next to the office of the Ganjoni-Shimanzi MCA.

A number of politicians are reportedly seeking Joho’s support for various seats ahead of next year’s elections. Joho has expressed interest to contest the presidency on ODM ticket.

ODM has a huge following in the region more than any other party. Its office in Mombasa reportedly influence what happens in the other Coast counties.

In Mombasa County, ODM won 27 out of the 30 MCA seats in the 2017 General Election. The party also bagged four out of the six National Assembly seats.

Sources said there was a bitter fight for control of Mombasa politics and by extension the Coast region, as the two camps in Mombasa seek to influence who succeeds Joho in 2022.

Businessman Suleiman Shahbal, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo are reportedly seeking Joho’s endorsement for Mombasa governorship. The three had been Joho’s fierce critics before things changed.

Shahbal and Mbogo, of Wiper, appear to be riding on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila’s handshake to be close to Joho.

But Mombasa Deputy Governor William Kingi’s announcement that he also wants to run for governorship has complicated the matrix for Joho on who to endorse.

Sunday, Kingi said only he and Nassir were competing for the ODM ticket for Mombasa governorship.

“Shahbal is not an ODM member. It is only Abdulswamad and I who are rightfully in ODM. Maybe the rest are seeking to join the party,” Kingi said.

Kingi denied knowledge of the new ODM office at Tom Mboya Memorial Hall, saying he was only aware of the one at Ganjoni.

Shahbal Sunday dismissed reports he was angling for Joho’s endorsement, saying he was engaging the electorate directly.

“We are in the handshake era where all leaders are currently working together for purposes of unity and development. We have never sat down with Joho over succession politics. Our working relationship has been on development,” he stated.

Kingi said he was the right person to take over from Joho, adding he was experienced in running the county government. "I also want to continue Joho’s development agenda," he said.

“I have received an overwhelming endorsement from the grassroots, that is why I have made a declaration to vie for governorship. It is the people of Mombasa who are pushing me to vie,” Kingi added.

[Patrick Beja, Philip Mwakio and Willis Oketch]

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