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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Nassir tightens grip on Mvita politics ahead of 2017

Abdulswamad Nassir, the Mvita MP is described by his supporters as a man of few words but a lot of action at the grassroots. Observers say he will still be the man to beat come 2017 general elections reportedly due to his strong networking in his constituency.
Nassir is a first-term MP having taken over the seat from cabinet secretary Najib Balala during the last general elections.
However, Balala was not among his competitors for the seat as the CS had opted to go for the Mombasa senatorial seat which he lost to Omar Hassan but was quickly rehabilitated by being appointed to the cabinet as Mining secretary.
Balala’s appointment has however cost him his political influence in Mombasa politics and the political party he founded, the Republican Congress is in tatters. Only recently, officials of the party and supporters were up in arms against the CS for closing down party offices in Mombasa.
It was not immediately clear why Balala took the sudden step to close down the RC party offices two years to the next general elections. However, his close associate and top party official Ibrahim Babangida was quoted saying, the CS was responding to a constitutional requirement that he should not be involved in politics.
But the other party officials dismissed him saying they were privy to Balala’s ongoing political maneuvers including attempts to form a single strong Coast based political party for 2017. They cited a secret meeting but which was exposed by the media which the cabinet secretary held with Kilifi North MP Gedion Mung’aro and other Coast politicians who lean towards Jubilee in a Coast beach hotel to deliberate on the party issue.
It is being rumoured that the Republican Congress party is among others under consideration by the Mung’aro group as a vehicle for 2017. It is for this reason that observers say Balala wants it “cleaned up’ to get rid of unwanted elements quietly before it is handed over to Mung’aro axis for ‘safe keeping’. The closure of the party offices in Mombasa is part of the strategy, it is being pointed out.
Mung’aro is being seen as Jubilee’s pointman in the Mijikenda regions and Balala will take care of the Swahili and Muslims at large on behalf of Jubilee.
But aware of the unfolding schemes, Mombasa governor Hassan Joho has crafted his own counter strategy. Among other things, Joho is bringing together all the Coast governors and are also exploring ways of forming a Coastal party. But this according to sources will only materialise if the Balala-Mung’aro camp unveils a new party. As at now, the Joho camp has dropped the idea of a Coast party, saying that idea has been tried in the past and failed to work.
Back to Mvita constituency politics, Abdulswamad is politically a marked man by the Joho camp. He together with Likoni’s Masoud Mwahima have opted not to be political puppets of the Mombasa governor. They are independent-minded and have variously taken opposite sides on public issues.
To safeguard his Mvita turf, observers say Nassir has maintained a close contact with Mvita voters. His mondus operandi is reminiscent to that of his father, the then long serving Mvita MP, the late Shariff Nassir Bin Taib, he who bestrode the Mombasa political scene like a colossus.
Nevertheless, when time comes, Abdulswamad will face well oiled opponents among them the managing director of Hisham transport company Farid Swaleh. The businessman has been traversing the constituency endearing himself to voters. He is also the Jubilee Coast coordinator and is well known in the port city.
It is not clear whether the newly appointed Kenyan ambassador to Oman Sheikh Mohammed Dor who is a former nominated MP will return home to contest the Mvita seat. If he does, he will rely on his strong networking among Mosque leaders. He is a respected personality among Muslims. He is also a close associate of Balala who is thought to have brokered his ambassadorial appointment.