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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 10 May 2015

Tectonic shifts in Mombasa county political terrain

Mombasa governor Hassan Joho has begun crafting his re-election bid with emerging reports that county senator Hassan Omar has fallen out of favour sending out speculations that he will not be in his 2017 lineup.
Sources indicate Joho camp i s instead grooming Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir to run for Mombasa senatorship. It was not immediately clear why Joho would want to dump the voluble Omar with whom they have had a close working relationship in the county since the last general elections.
However, observers claim it has got to do with the senator’s brand of politics. Joho political advisers believe the senator will be of little value in the campaigns as he has allegedly lost grassroots support. Since his election, Omar prefers to play national politics as opposed to local politics. He likes being seen in the company of top Cord leaders in Nairobi where he takes pride in criticising Jubilee administration whenever an opportunity arises and has over the time neglected his Mombasa home support, it is being pointed out.
The Mombasa youth who overwhelmingly voted for Omar as one of their own are a disappointed lot. It is claimed not a single pledge to the youth which he made during the campaigns has been fulfilled.
On the other hand, Joho and Nassir have hit the ground testing the waters. Apart from attending local functions together, the duo have made several trips abroad particularly into the Arab world to supposedly woo foreign investors to Mombasa.
Even after being tipped by close associates about the impending sidelining by Joho, sources say Omar who apparently thinks he is indispensable and that the Mombasa governor cannot do without him has dismissed the reports as idle talk. He takes himself as the godfather of Joho both in the senate and in Mombasa, it is claimed.
Back to the ongoing re-alignments in Mombasa politics, the Joho team has Tawfiq Balala as the man to be supported to take over in Mvita to replace Nassir. Already, Tawfiq who is a cousin of Mining cabinet secretary Najib Balala has been appointed a minister in charge of Transport in Mombasa county government.
The arrangements seem to suggest that CS Balala was unlikely to seek for any elective position in Mombasa county in the coming general elections. In the last elections, Balala sought to become the senator of Mombasa on a Republican Congress party ticket. However, he was floored by Omar after which Uhuru Kenyatta came to his rescue and appointed him cabinet secretary in charge of the mining docket.
Across the other Mombasa county constituencies, the Joho group is also working on ways of dethroning Likoni MP Masoud Mwahima. The Likoni legislator has remained a bitter critic of the Joho administration and seems to be intent on joining hands with Nyali MP Hezron Awiti who is eyeing the governorship seat to pile pressure on Mombasa county government.
However, the Mombasa women representative Mishi Mboko whom the Joho team is fronting for the Likoni seat come 2017 was likely to be a hard sell to the majority Digos in the South Coast constituency. Mwahima is himself well grounded politically and removing him needs a good strategy and the right candidate, it is said.
In Changamwe constituency, Joho strategy team was reportedly still searching for a strong candidate who will stop former MP Ramadhan Kajembe who has announced a comeback. The MP Omar Mwinyi, even though a staunch supporter and defender of the governor, is regarded as a weak leader with no firm grassroots support. He won the Changamwe seat courtesy of the ODM wave in the county, sources say.
It is feared that if Kajembe makes a comeback, the incumbent is likely to find it difficult to control the area politics because Kajembe is an established politician.
Additionally, they believe the former MP is still bitter after the Joho camp shortchanged him in the last general elections and could turn out to be a thorn in the flesh of Joho administration if he was re-elected into office. However, political analysts believe the Changamwe seat will be an easy go for Kajembe who is still being regarded highly in the constituency as a result of his unrivaled development record.
In Jomvu constituency, it is a guessing game for MP Badi Twalib. Like Omar of Changamwe, the MP’s loyalty to governor Joho cannot be questioned. However, he has no political clout of his own and it is feared he maybe a liability to the Joho 2017 campaign team. Political advisers of the governor are reportedly still scratching their heads on how to approach Jomvu constituency to retain the seat. The likes of Said Chande, manager Kenya Ports Authority are hovering about waiting to benefit from the expected fallout.
Area MCA Karisa Nzai is still unsure if he will contest for the Jomvu parliamentary seat in 2017 after he was trapped with court cases one of which is allegedly politically motivated.
In Kisauni constituency, MP Rashid Bedzimba is an insider in the Joho campaigns and is among the advisers. He is a grassroots mobiliser and his would be opponents including lawyer Anania Mwaboza currently working in the deputy president’s office have to do proper homework to defeat him. He is a former aide of Balala.
In Nyali constituency, Abdalla Said aka Saido is the man the Joho camp will front against their opponents. Area MP Awiti is preparing to take the bull by its horns. He is emerging as the greatest scare to Joho’s hold on the governorship. Last week for instance, he mobilised Mombasa residents to storm the governor’s office to demand for proper services in Nyali constituency. They did not find the governor in the office and went back promising to return.

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