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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 25 January 2015

Inside Joho schemes for a second term

Our Reporter

Mombasa governor Hassan Joho is already crafting his re-election strategy ahead of the next general elections.
The only person Joho viewed as a serious opponent, businessman Suleiman Shahbal who put up an impressive challenge in the last elections on a Wiper party ticket has been politically neutralised after a series of legal defeats by the governor. Observers think he has been politically punctured and may not measure up to Joho with  advantages of incumbency.
There has also been talk in the port city that Shahbal may be weighing various options among them quitting politics altogether. The banker is reportedly unhappy that Mombasa residents have chosen to remain silent even when their rights are infringed by the county government.
And among the things observers are pointing out as telltale signs that Shahbal could be preparing to throw in the towel includes the fact that he no longer comments on happenings in the Coastal town as he did before. He is not active in any other political grouping, it is being pointed out.
And in the absence of Shahbal as Joho’s opponent in the next elections, political analysts say the contest for governorship would be a walkover for the governor as the other opponents are considered to have no capacity to mount a serious political campaign that can match that of the Joho group.
The only other move that can scuttle Joho’s plans and return him on the drawing table or even terminate his political career in the next general elections is if Mining cabinet secretary Najib Balala decides to contest for governor’s seat.
For one, Balala is a popular politician in Mombasa city and residents speak fondly about how he turned the fortunes of the port city when he served as the town’s mayor. He resisted corruption at the council and made enemies with the gods of impunity culminating into him being voted out.
With the hugely disgruntled Mombasa voters, Balala will not need to spend so much to win their votes. But the situation would be different if he were to front someone else for the seat. Of course, he did so in the last elections by fronting one a Babangida, a largely unknown personality in port city politics and the outcome was disastrous.
Back to Joho political agenda, with no signs that Balala or any other strong contender will be in the race, Joho is sitting pretty and has decided to focus on how to win the whole of Coast through the six governors.
Joho is making a calculation that once he puts the whole Coast region behind him, he will become what Raila Odinga is to Nyanza and William Ruto to Rift Valley.
And if Joho manages to achieve such status, he will have an opportunity to dictate political terms in addition to bargaining with other regions for a bigger office, it is being pointed out.
Currently, the governor is playing a key role in pushing for the establishment of a Coast Development Bank. He has managed to mobilise all the governors and a record 23 MPs and senators to endorse the move.

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