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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 16 February 2015

Divisions rock Jap Coast launch

Cracks of divisions have emerged in Jubilee Alliance Party in Mombasa county a few days after its launch in the port city signifying a protracted battle ahead.
During the party’s launch in Mombasa a few days ago, the TNA Coast coordinator Farid Swaleh stormed out of the meeting accusing organisers of disrespecting him and other leaders who have come a long way in Jubilee.
“It is wrong for newcomers to pretend to be more committed to party affairs than those who have been in the party. However, it must be clearly understood that I am not opposed to the formation or existence of Jap but leaders who have stood with Jubilee for a long time must be recognised and respected,” said Farid in a statement.
Farid was angered after he and Jubilee nominated Senator Emma Mbura were denied a chance to address the meeting held at Mombasa Women’s Hall. The meeting was presided over by Jap national interim chairman Nelson Dzuya and his deputy David Murathe.
The appointment of Dzuya, a low key politician at the Coast as the new party’s national chairman has not been received well by many in the region. Dzuya vied for the Rabai parliamentary seat on a URP ticket in the last general elections and lost to lawyer William Kamoti of ODM. He is a close associate of Labour cabinet secretary Kazungu Kambi who hails from neighbouring Kaloleni constituency.
Back to the Jap launch in the Coastal town, two key politicians in Mombasa politics, Ramadhan Kajembe and Suleiman Shahbal, defected to the new party and declared they would vie for political positions in the next election on the party’s ticket.
Before shifting, Kajembe was ODM Mombasa county chairman while Shahbal, the main rival of Mombasa governor Hassan Joho in the March 4 2013 general elections, was a member of Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party.
Analysts predict that the defection of the two prominent politicians onto the government side is bound to give Jubilee a new lease of life in Mombasa county politics. Currently, ODM led by Mombasa governor Joho has dominated the political space.
Even Uhuru Kenyatta’s highly publicised charm offensive in the port city last year did not achieve much as the ground was lacking experienced and committed foot soldiers who would have kept the flame burning. It is instructive to note that during his meet-the-people tours in Mombasa, Uhuru was accompanied by Mombasa ODM rebel MPs. The said rebels who included Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir have since retreated and are firmly in the fold of Governor Joho.
But while Shahbal is still nursing governor ambitions, Kajembe who contested for Mombasa senator position and lost to Hassan Omar has retreated and is instead eyeing the Changamwe parliamentary seat which he initially held for a record 15 years consecutively.
Sources close to Kajembe, an experienced political hand with a gift of the garb, say the veteran politician’s reason of suspending his senate ambition is over fears that those who rigged him out are still around and would do the same in another election. He believes, a constituency is easier to supervise to ward off would-be riggers.
His declaration to go for the Changamwe seat has reportedly sent alarm bells ringing in the MP’s political camp. And aspirants who lost in the last general elections like David Kimanthi aka Camp David are reportedly chickening out of the 2017 race as their chances of making it have been compromised by the re-entry of Kajembe.
For Shahbal, his prospects in 2017 still remain uncertain. Perhaps, for being highly learned, his campaign style and approach is different. His critics say he lacks the punch and charisma to sway young voters.
And the entry of Nyali MP Hezron Awiti in the Mombasa governor’s race is likely to complicate Shahbal’s chances, it is being pointed out.  Awiti candidature will likely eat deeper into both Shahbal and Joho support bases. The Luo vote which is assumed to be under Awiti’s lock and key is the same that propelled Joho to power. Being a Wiper candidate, Awiti will also attract the Kamba vote which went to Shahbal in the last general election.
Recently, Awiti hosted party leader Kalonzo Musyoka at a huge meeting bringing delegates from six Coast counties. At the meeting, Kalonzo paid a glowing tribute to Awiti’s steadfastness and support for the Wiper party and declared the Nyali MP will be elected to a party national post soon. He did not specify which post it will be but inside sources speculated that he was likely to land the national treasurer’s position.