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Aisha Jumwa: The party-switching striker

Sunday October 6 2019

 Aisha Jumwa

For observers, it is a wait-and-see on whose tune Aisha Jumwa will be dancing to, as the next General Election draws near. ILLUSTRATION | J. NYAGAH | NMG 

ELVIS ONDIEKI
By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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The year is 2011 and Aisha Jumwa is on a mission to defend Kanu, the party that ushered her into politics.

She has just learnt that some Orange Democratic Party (ODM) politicians went to the Kanu headquarters in Kilifi and erased all the symbols of the independence party in a protracted dispute over the building.

SINGING DIRGE

When Ms Jumwa storms the contested structure accompanied by a crowd, she pulls down the ODM flag then declares that she is one of the true Kanu members who have documents regarding the ownership of the building.

She later leads efforts to repaint the building back to Kanu colours, as reported by Taifa Leo of December 23, 2011.

At that time, Ms Jumwa was in the political cold, having unsuccessfully vied to be Bahari MP on a National Rainbow Coalition ticket in the 2007 General Election.

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Prior to vying for a parliamentary seat in 2007, she was a councillor for Takaungu ward on the backing of Kanu.

Fast-forward to August 6, 2017. It is hours to the General Election and at a rally in Kilifi, Ms Jumwa — a woman Representative on an ODM ticket since 2013 — leads residents in singing a dirge for Jubilee Party, in a show of confidence that ODM will trounce the latter in the polls.

Forward again to January 2019. This time, Ms Jumwa is declaring at a rally that she is serving as Malindi MP via ODM Party because it helped her win the 2017 election.

“Lakini 2022, nimehama,” she declares, to mean that she plans to decamp during the next General Election. By the time she was uttering those words, her dalliance with Deputy President William Ruto was an open secret.

EXPELLED

Those who know Ms Jumwa’s history with switching political parties since 1997 when she was elected as a councillor might have been indifferent concerning the information being traded last week.

Did she, or did she not, switch loyalty from DP Ruto and return to ODM? That is still the question.

From messages posted by ODM’s communications director Philip Etale, Ms Jumwa indeed returned to the party that expelled her for being disloyal.

“Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa today officially ditched (Dr Ruto’s) Team Tangatanga and vowed to vigorously campaign for Bernard Okoth Imran for the Kibra parliamentary seat,” Mr Etale posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

His post was accompanied by photos of Ms Jumwa with ODM leader Raila Odinga and other party politicians. Moreover, Mr Etale stated, Ms Jumwa had attended an ODM parliamentary group meeting.

POSITIONING

But Ms Jumwa would later come out to call ODM’s bluff in the matter. She said it was by coincidence that she found herself at the meeting of ODM politicians.

“Sikuwa kwa huo mkutano uliofanyika na sijui ni kwa nini wale wananing’ang’ania (I wasn’t at that meeting and I don’t know why they are clamouring for me),” she would later tell a local TV station.

“I want Mr Etale to gauge his utterances,” she added. “I’ve not been involved with an ODM candidate in Kibra.”

She knows where her heart lies. But for a politician who has moved from councillor to woman representative then MP and has now set sights on the Kilifi governorship seat, she knows too well the value of political positioning.

It was through that positioning that she decided to run for Malindi MP against Willy Mtengo who, by the time the General Election was happening in 2017, had served for just a year.

UNWRITTEN RULE

The unwritten rule in most areas in Kenya is that a person who wins a seat in a by-election automatically gets a second term but 2016-2017 was all Mr Mtengo could get. Ms Jumwa won the election decisively, largely due to her vocal nature in an area considered an ODM stronghold.

One of her famous imageries about politics is the rolling of the waist. In a rally earlier this year, she spoke of dancing her waist lame while campaigning for ODM, which was all in vain.

“Nilikataa nikawaambia siku hizi kiuno kina shughuli (I told (ODM) that the waist nowadays has work to do),” she told a rally.

For observers, it is a wait-and-see on whose tune she will be dancing to, as the next General Election draws near.