Tongues have been wagging since last week following reports that Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi had abandoned his political cause while at the same time giving the strongest hint that he could be joining Deputy President William Ruto’s camp in readiness for the 2022 election.
The governor is one of the political kingpins in the Coast region who have been fierce critics of the Jubilee regime and his abrupt turnaround has sent some shockwaves as it seems to have left out Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.
Mr Kingi has said he is yet to see the usefulness of the March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Whereas Mr Kingi seems to be casting his net towards Mr Ruto’s side of the political divide, Mr Joho on Thursday made news of his own when he hosted Baringo Senator Gideon Moi as efforts to build alliances start in earnest ahead of 2022.
In January, Mr Kingi had called for secession of the coastal strip from Kenya. He would soon after follow it up with a push to form a political party, all of which he appears to have abandoned. On Friday, he said the handshake “will have no impact if there will be no justice for the coastal people”.
Pwani University lecturer Hassan Mwakimako says once again the region is finding itself as the main theatre from where the 2022 presidential popularity contests will be waged.
“The upcountry politicians are storming the coastal region looking for alliances. The focus is on the Coast because none of its top politicians is ready to run for the presidency,” Mr Mwakimako told the Sunday Nation yesterday.
The increased interest in the Coast, he said, is proof of the potential of the main political actors from the region in national politics.
“The struggle is between the two on who will be the ultimate political kingpin of the Coast and thus the pre-eminent political actor in the region. In fact, both Kingi and Joho are using different paths to achieve the same goal,” he adds.
However, he notes that it is too early in the day for a conclusive analysis on the 2022 elections to be made.
Mr Herman Bond Manyora, a University of Nairobi lecturer, agrees that it is too early to make conclusions on the kind of political alignments that will define the Uhuru succession. He says the results of the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga will decide the course of politics henceforth.
Another Pwani University lecturer Halim Shauri says cracks between Mr Joho and Mr Kingi started long ago “when Kingi thought he could stand on his own”. “And that is why he has been calling for the formation of a Coast political party. Mr Kingi’s thinking is to go his way ahead of 2022, not to win but to see him going for a run-off during the presidential election,” said Prof Shauri.
He argued that it is the same strategy that Mr Joho wants to use following his meeting with Mr Moi but warns that the pact will not allow them to win if they are to contest the top seat.
“Mr Joho controls only a third of the Coast votes while Moi has only a half of the votes of his region with which they cannot win the seat. Their unity is just a strategy because sometimes elections are not won by votes but by strategy,” he said.
ODM Mombasa branch chairman Mohammed Hatimy said the Moi-Joho pact is aimed at uniting Kenyans noting that bringing Kenyans together is the “only reason the two came together”.
As Mr Kingi is warming up to the DP, his counterpart in Kwale Salim Mvurya has gone silent on national discourse even as it is claimed that he has quietly abandoned the DP. During the last General Election, Mr Mvurya was among the Jubilee pointmen in the region.
Since the swearing-in of President Kenyatta for his second term in November last year, however, the governor has been absent from Jubilee events. Just last week he gave a wide berth to the Third Annual Legislative Summit in Mombasa. Similarly, he didn’t show up for the Fifth Devolution Conference in Kakamega.
Efforts to get Mr Mvurya were unsuccessful as his phone was switched off.
However, a source close to the governor, and who did not want to be named so as not to appear to be discussing his boss’s issues without his permission, retraced the falling-out between Mr Mvurya and the DP to the Council of Governors politics.
Soon after the last election, it had been agreed within Jubilee that Mr Mvurya would take over the leadership of the council, with his Kirinyaga counterpart Anne Waiguru as his deputy.
According to the source, Mr Mvurya is unhappy because he believes the DP sacrificed him in favour of Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok.
Mr Nanok is said to have reached out to Mr Ruto where he succeeded in securing an agreement that allowed him to complete his one-year term before surrendering the seat to Mr Mvurya. While Ms Waiguru was catapulted to the position, Mr Mvurya missed out and his allies have blamed the DP.
“Mvurya is to blame for the political misfortunes that define his leadership. He is neither strategic nor assertive,” Mr Mwakimako says, pointing out that his “lack of a fighting spirit is to blame for his dull political career”.
“He is satisfied with being a governor and always believes he can get another appointment simply because he is a good man,” he adds.