Coast unity bid hits turbulence

Hassan Joho, Amason Kingi

Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) Dhadho Godhana (Tana River) Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi) during a press briefing at Mwakishimba, in Taita Taveta County. 

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika | Nation Media Group

Supremacy battles pitting the three governors, competing tribal interests and interference by national political figures are among factors that collapsed the quest for a coast-based political outfit.

 With 13 months to the General Election, proponents of a regional party, a clamour revived by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, still insist their plan will succeed despite many politicians abandoning the quest.

 Mr Kingi’s tussle for the region’s supremacy with Mombasa’s Hassan Joho and Kwale’s Salim Mvurya — the three are serving second and final terms in office — is partly blamed for scuttling the campaign.

 According to politicians and community leaders, supremacy wars, tribalism and interference by unnamed external forces have dimmed hopes for uniting the region politically.

It has emerged that there were divisions among political leaders regarding who should be the region’s kingpin if a party or coalition was to be formed to champion Coast interests.

 Contention arose between some leaders who were insisting that the region’s spokesman must be from the Mijikenda community and an opposing side which held that a strong leader who can negotiate for the region’s interests was needed.

Conflicting ideas

Kaya elders Coast coordinator Tsuma Nzai confirmed that there were conflicting ideas about the matter.

He regretted that the matter was eventually turned into a weapon to attack Mr Kingi, as some politicians started questioning his motives of pushing for formation of a regional party.

 “If there are proposals that Coast’s political kingpin should be from the Mijikenda community, then whenever Governor Kingi comes out to speak he gets castigated. It is clear that those politicians attacking him are the ones taking us back in this journey,” he said.

This revelation could point to one of the reasons why Mr Kingi kept insisting that his passion to see a politically united Coast ahead of 2022 should not be misconstrued to be for his personal gains.

 In a recent public event, Mr Joho waded into the tribalism debate in Coast politics.

“I have heard people talking about tribalism. We do not want any tribalism. We have many tribes that live in unity and we want it to remain that way so that the rest of the country can learn from us,” he said.

 Personal ambitions

Other politicians have blamed outgoing governors for championing their personal ambitions.

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa claimed that during earlier stages of discussions on forming a regional party, there were divisions among leaders concerning what should be the main agenda.

 During an interview with a local radio station, the MP who is planning to vie for Kilifi governorship, said leaders aiming for national positions had conflicting agenda from their colleagues who will be aiming to retain their seats or climb the ladder regionally.

 “The problem is that politicians are always loyal to their party leaders. That is why when we talked of forming another party, our politicians were called by their bosses who were against the move and they dropped everything,” said Magarini MP William Kingi.

Four political parties that had been identified to either fold up into one or form a strong regional coalition are Kadu-Asili, Umoja Summit, Shirikisho and Republican Congress Party.

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