Coast MPs scramble for county seats
Posted Friday, September 21 2012 at 23:30
- Mwakwere and Balala ditch national politics for local seats as politicians change focus in devolved system of governance
- Fourteen of the 21 elected leaders from six regions ditch Parliament for new posts of governor and senator in the March 4, 2013, election
Senior politicians in Coast are ditching Parliament for county positions in the March General Election.
Fourteen of the 21 elected MPs in the region have joined the race for senate and gubernatorial seats.
Among those giving up the national stage for local politics are Fisheries minister Amason Kingi, his Environment counterpart Chirau Mwakwere, assistant minister Ramadhan Kajembe and the region’s longest serving MP, Mr Fahim Twaha.
Mr Mwakwere cleared the last hurdle to contesting the Kwale senate seat on Tuesday when the court dropped hate speech charges against him.
But the Matuga MP has also expressed interest to be the presidential running mate of United Republican Party leader William Ruto.
In Tana River, MPs Danson Mungatana (Garsen) and Dhadho Godhana (Galole) will battle it out for the governor’s mansion, while Dr Abdi Nuh (Bura) will go for the senate, leaving all the three seats open.
In the neighbouring Lamu, the two MPs, Mr Twaha (Lamu West) and Abu Chiaba (Lamu East) have indicated they will go for governor and senator respectively. Both are allied to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance party.
In Mombasa, only Likoni MP Masoud Mwahima will defend his seat as the three other MPs go county. Former Tourism minister Najib Balala (Mvita) recently announced he will vie for senate on a Republican Congress Party of Kenya ticket. He will be up against ODM’s Ramadhan Kajembe (Likoni) and human rights activist Omar Hassan.
Kisauni MP Hassan Joho wants to be governor on an ODM ticket. Mr Joho will face businessman Suleiman Shahbal, former Kaloleni MP Chibule wa Tsuma and retired banker Ibrahim Khamis, among others.
In Kilifi, Mr Kingi (Magarini) and Ganze MP Francis Baya are fighting for the governor’s post, while Malindi MP Gideon Mung’aro and Bahari’s Benedict Gunda will defend their seats.
The Kilifi senate race has attracted eight aspirants, including former ministers Morris Dzoro and Katana Ngala, as well as former Magarini MP David Kombe.
Taita Taveta bucks the trend of MPs giving up their seats. All the four law makers — Calist Mwatela (Mwatate), Dan Mwazo ( Voi) and Thomas Mwadeghu (Wundanyi) and Naomi Shaban (Taveta) — will defend their seats.
“I am defending my Taveta Parliamentary seat and I have little to say about the county positions,” Gender minister Naomi Shaban told Saturday Nation.
Four newcomers want to be governor — former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor Jacinta Mwatela, Mr John Mruttu (former Kenya Petroleum Refinery Limited general manager), Dr Elijah Mwandoe (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology lecturer) and former permanent secretary Mwanyengela Ngali.
All the aspirants face a tough task winning over voters skeptical of politicians making electoral pledges they never fulfill. Top on the list are the so-called historical injustices — high unemployment rate, lack of land, poverty, inequitable sharing of tourism and natural resources, among others.
The separatist group Mombasa Republican Council has built its campaign for secession around these issues and is opposed to the General Election. Land is the biggest challenge, with the question of squatters and absentee landlords unresolved for six decades.
The increased exploration for oil and mining activities in the area have also heightened ethnic consciousness among the residents, with most thinking they would have a fairer share of the resources if upcountry people are kicked out.
Analysts say the divisive MRC agenda may be the biggest vote winner this time round. This partly explains why all presidential aspirants have been trooping to the province with promises of undoing the so-called historical injustices.