President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto (2nd right) and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (right) joined by Coast leaders (from left) Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, Omar Mwinyi of Changamwe Constituency and Jomvu MP Badi Twalib during the launch of the standard gauge railway line at Changamwe Marshalling yard in Mombasa November 28, 2013. A section of leaders from the Coast have hinted at working with the Jubilee government. NATION MEDIA GROUP
Saturday, January 4, 2014By MWAKERA MWAJEFA
Deputy President William Ruto’s presence at the thanksgiving party for Kilifi South MP Mustafa Idd at the Vipingo Community Centre last weekend has prompted debate on party loyalties as the new leadership at the Coast settles down to work.
Hinting at apparently shifting ground was the Kilifi Women’s Representative Aisha Juma Khamis (ODM) who was also the MC at the function.
“We are in the government Mr Deputy President,” she said, “and we are ready to work with you to ensure all the problems afflicting us are resolved before your term ends.”
And she added: “We were elected to be in government and not the other way round”.
She suggested that if the Jubilee government resolves some of the pertinent issues like land ownership, the Coast leadership may rethink its position and “change house” in the next political battle for State House.
Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime (ODM) was even more categorical by saying “stronger ties” will guarantee more benefits for the Coast region and urged his colleagues to work with a unity of purpose for the people.
His Malindi counterpart Dan Kazungu (ODM) called for unity between Rift Valley and Coast regions just as it was before independence when former President Daniel arap Moi worked with the late Ronald Ngala in KADU.
“This is the time to revive that relationship, and it’s up to you (DP) to initiate that working relationship that saw the two figures unite politically to run for the leadership of the country,” he said.
Others who called for cooperation with the Jubilee administration were Kwale Women’s Representative Zainab Chidzuga (ODM) and her Taita Taveta counterpart Joyce Lay (ODM), Ganze MP Peter Shehe (Federal Party), Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani (Ford Kenya) and Jomvu MP Badi Twaliba (Wiper Party).
Coast Parliamentary Group chairman and Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro (ODM) came out openly to say 34 out of the 38 coastal leaders were from Cord, but their allegiance may shift in 2017.
“I want Anania Mwaboza and Rashid Shakombo (URP) to join us, because instead of begging from the government we will be demanding as equal partners our rightful share,” he said.
Speaking from the sidelines, Sabaki County Representative Edward Kazungu Dele told the Sunday Nation that the parliamentary group chairman was working to unify the region before establishing a political party.
“Coast people are tired of playing second fiddle, and there are efforts to establish one strong party that will carry everybody aboard and become the voice of the region,” he said.
According to the MCA, Mr Mung’aro has started visits to different counties to preach coastal unity and the possibility of starting a formidable party for the 2017 polls.
But Prof Morris Mbondenyi of Africa Nazarene University sees power struggles within the political class in the region as the reason for the lack of unity among them.
The law lecturer says leadership differences and superiority contests will make it very difficult for the leaders to speak with one voice or work as a team.
“Every one of the six counties has its share of political chest thumping and power struggles so that governors, senators, MPs and county representatives tear each other up before their electorate,” he told the Sunday Nation on the phone.
But another political insider, who wished to remain anonymous, wondered why the Cord MPs would fete the DP as the chief guest in a predominantly ODM stronghold if there was nothing cooking.
“During his four-day stay, Mr Ruto was invited by Governor Hassan Joho to launch security vehicles; then Mvita MP Abdullswamad Nassir invited the DP to visit his new baby at a private hospital – why these engagements?” the insider wondered and told Sunday Nation to watch this year’s events keenly.
However, things got thicker when Mr Joho said the Jubilee government was retrogressing to an analogue era by recycling elderly leaders and ignoring youthful talent.
“Our Deputy President, mine is just a word of advice to you. If you are with the President, sometimes you need to look at the mood of the nation when doing things. For example recycling leaders who have worked for many years while leaving youthful and vibrant young and well educated people roaming the streets jobless leaves a lot to be desired,” the governor said.
But in a quick rebuttal, Mr Ruto defended the appointments saying the appointees were experienced civil servants whose contribution was needed in the government.
He took a swipe at Coast leaders, saying although they were “digital” they went for the “Mzee” (Raila Odinga) during the March 4 General Election showing they were clearly for elderly persons.
“Where is the difference between Raila Odinga and Francis Muthaura. And some of you voted for Raila ...?” he asked.