Why Old Town residents see Joho, Nassir as enemies

Wednesday May 13 2020

Businesses are closed in Mombasa's Old Town on May 7, 2020 after government's order on cessation of movement to curb coronavirus spread. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is a man under siege — his woes seem to deepen as he puts in more effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite receiving accolades for his strategies in dealing with the virus, back at his home, he is seen as an “enemy” by some of the county residents.

Mr Joho has faced a backlash from the residents of Old Town, which has become the epicentre of the disease in the county.

Thinking he was helping the residents by asking them to go for tests, the governor was shocked when they refused to get tested. He proceeded to threaten them with a lockdown.

On Wednesday, the national government made good Mr Joho’s threat and put the ancient town under lockdown, fuelling hate from the residents. The area MP, Abdulswamad Nassir, was not spared.

“The lockdown will end and so will the virus. Our only mistake was to elect these leaders, but they will need us. If the ultimate price of electing them is by locking us in, then they better pray that this virus never ends,” said a resident who only identified himself as Salim.

Political analyst Hassan Mwakimako said the residents feel that Mr Joho is their enemy because of how events unfolded — the lockdown happened after Governor Joho’s threat.

“They will not see the move as a measure to help them deal with the virus,” he added.


National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale made things worse when he told Mr Joho: “You were doing a good job until you decided to become a dictator.”

Nyali MP Mohammed Ali also attacked Mr Joho. On Thursday, Governor Joho was forced to explain to the residents about the recent measure.

“I want to tell you that in this war, your enemy is not the government, your governor or the politician that you like or you don’t. Our enemy is this pandemic. I do not have an issue with anyone; my issue is to deal with this virus,” Mr Joho said.

The governor asked the residents not to allow themselves to be drawn into what he termed “sideshows and shenanigans”.

He told the residents that their focus and efforts should go into dealing with the virus, which has killed 29 people in the country.

On Friday, Mr Nassir said their efforts are meant to protect the lives of the people.

“I moved the bill in Parliament to scrap the charging of those who are taken to quarantine. We have done a lot, but not for political gain, so to those who want to engage us in politics we are telling them that time will come,” he said on phone.

Prof Mwakimako said for the leaders to calm the nerves and regain the favour of the their constituents, they must now ensure they provide all the essential services.

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