No thank you, Coast governors reject William Ruto’s Muguka meeting

Coast governors decline to meet President Ruto over muguka

What you need to know:

  • Governors said they would not attend the meeting until they consult with all Coast stakeholders.
  • In May, Mr Nassir, Mr Mung'aro and Mr Mwadime banned muguka in their counties.

Governors of the six Coast counties have turned down an invite by President William Ruto to discuss their tough regulation of miraa and muguka trade, which includes ban of the stimulants in three of the counties. 

Led by Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani chairperson Gideon Mung’aro, the county bosses on Sunday revealed that they had received an invite from State House, Nairobi, to discussed the matter with their counterparts from Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu— Kenya’s miraa-and-muguka-source counties. 

However, Mr Mung'aro, who is the Kilifi governor, together with Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa), Andrew Mwadime (Taita Taveta), Fatuma Achani (Kwale), Dhado Godhana (Tana River) and Issa Timmamy (Lamu) said they would not attend the meeting until they consult with all Coast stakeholders, including health experts, civil society and religious leaders. 

In May, Mr Nassir, Mr Mung'aro and Mr Mwadime banned muguka in their counties. However, the ban was suspended by the High Court.

Others, such as Ms Achani, imposed hefty levies on suppliers, traders and consumers of muguka.

For weeks now, the governors, together with the Coast parliamentary group, have been pushing for a one-on-one meeting with the Head of State. 

This was after President Ruto met the leadership of Embu County, led by Governor Cecily Mbarire, following the ban of muguka by three Coast counties.

In the meeting, President Ruto faulted the muguka ban, saying the crop is legal in Kenya. 

Muguka, a variety of miraa, is a scheduled crop in accordance with the Crops Act 2013 and the Miraa Regulations 2023. 

Consequently, Dr Ruto committed Sh500 million in the 2024/25 financial year for value addition and promotion of miraa and muguka farming and trade.

However, Coast politicians from across the political divide— including the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Dr Ruto United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Pamoja African Alliance (PAA)— accused President Ruto of discrimination after he met the Embu leadership. 

On Sunday evening, the leaders met in Mombasa announcing that they would not meet the Head of State. 

Traders' excitement as muguka arrives in Mombasa after lifting of ban

“We thank President Ruto for inviting us to discuss the muguka matter, but after further deliberations with our MPs and senators, we have agreed to turn down the offer,” said Mr Mung’aro. 

“We ask the President to pardon us, we won’t meet him this Tuesday because we want to ensure we discuss this issue thoroughly with Coast stakeholders before meeting him on a later date.”

He defended the move, saying the Coast leadership wanted to involve all stakeholders affected by the stimulants. 

On June 13,  Head of Public Service Felix Koskei invited the Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru, Coast county bosses, and Ms Mbarire, Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) and Kawira Mwangaza (Meru)  for the meeting. 

Mr Nassir said the presidential meeting should also involve other elected leaders from the Coast. 

“Given that this issue affects the whole of society, we have resolved to respectfully request State House to engage the entire leadership of the Coast, including senators, MPs and assembly leadership exclusively before any other sitting,” said Mr Nassir. 

Some of the other leaders attended the Sunday meeting in Mombasa.

They included Flora Chibule (Deputy Governor Kilifi), Senators Mohammed Faki (Mombasa) and Danson Mungatana (Tana River), and MPs Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Mishi Mboko (Likoni) and Gertrude Mbeyu (Kilifi Woman Rep).

Others were Rashid Bedzimba (Kisauni), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), and Anthony Mupe (Rabai). 
Governor Godhana said the Coast leadership had resolved to address the societal impact of muguka to ensure that any decisions made reflect the interests and well-being of the entire region. 

“We have engaged in insightful discussions and have decided to further expand our engagements by including influential voices from various sectors, including the clergy and civil society, before we can then meet the president for further deliberations,” said Mr Godhana. 

He said their goal was to unite as a region against the sale and consumption of muguka for a “stronger, healthier, more united coastal community”. 

The rejection of Dr Ruto’s invite comes a week after the Coast governors turned down an invitation to meet Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi to discuss the ban, citing bias.