If you can’t beat them, join them, so the saying goes.
And Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) bigwigs at the Coast, assailed by calls by politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto to form a regional party, have now declared their intention to ditch the Raila Odinga-led outfit for a Coast-based party that will be unveiled in June.
In a dramatic about-turn for Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who is also the ODM deputy party leader, and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi, the duo made the announcement separately during public events, saying time has come for Coast region to chart its own political destiny and even produce a presidential candidate in the 2022 General Election.
Mr Joho, who had earlier dismissed calls by the Ruto-leaning Tangatanga legislators to form a party for the region, seems to have now crafted a way to beat them in their own game. The MPs, including Kilifi North’s Owen Baya, Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), and Mohamed Ali (Nyali), have already set their eyes on Kadu-Asili party and announcing plans to unveil it in March
Other Tangatanga MPs are Khatib Mwashetani (Lungalunga), Sharif Ali (Lamu East), Jones Mlolwe (Voi), Ali Wario (Bura), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and former Mombasa senator Hassan Omar.
But last Saturday during the burial of former Kaloleni MP Gunga Mwinga, Mr Kingi, a close political ally of Mr Joho, said the region has about three million votes and should stop depending on “outsiders” during elections.
“Coast region should stop being over-reliant on parties from other regions. I want to assure the Coast people that, come June, we shall have our own outfit that will be used to spearhead the region’s political agenda,” said Mr Kingi. He lashed out at Coast leaders who have been fighting one another terming them a big hindrance to the political unity of the region.
“Our biggest undoing is that even as we push for the unity of this region, we continue fighting one another and support leaders from other regions,” he said.
Last Thursday, about 25 Coast legislators together with interior Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Hussein Dado and Mr Joho headed to Garsen in Tana River County to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), during which Mr Joho was endorsed as the kingpin.
During the Garsen rally Mr Joho said time had come for the Coast region to be listened to and to determine its own political destiny.
“It is high time Coast people charted their own political destiny, we shall no longer be the slaves of people who have been using us for their own political gain,” he said.
He added: “If you look at Hassan Joho, do you think I am not fit to contest for President? We have been made slaves of others in each and every election but this time things have changed.”
Mr Joho in his campaigns for the BBI said they are targeting the presidential post contrary to allegations that the region is aiming at a Deputy Prime Minister post that shall be created by BBI.
“Some people claim we are targeting the deputy prime minster post, that is not true since we are targeting the presidential seat so that when things turn upside down, we fall for the lower post,” he added.
Legislators present during the rally were Garsen MP Ali Wario, Abdulswamad Sharrif (Mvita), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), Ken Chonga (Kilifi South), William Kamoti (Rabai), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), Said Hirbae (Galole), Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo.
Others are Jomvu MP Badi Twalib, Kilifi Woman representative Getrude Mbeyu, her Mombasa counterpart Asha Hussein, Ruweida Mohamed (Lamu) and Kwale Senator Issa Juma Boy among others.
Mr Joho, popularly referred to as Sultan, said they will no longer be responding to insults from the Coast legislators who have joined team Tangatanga but will engage in dialogue to ensure the region speaks in one voice in 2022 election.
“We have begun from here in Garsen to bring all people together but we shall go round the region to unite the people to enable us speak in one voice before going to other parts of the country,” he said.