Top leaders from the Coast are conspicuously missing during Deputy President William Ruto’s five-day visit to the region.
Unlike earlier visits when the DP would be accompanied by more than 20 Coast MPs as he criss-crossed the region to launch development projects, this time around only a handful of the legislators attended his functions.
Dr Ruto was seen to have made inroads in the region as he enjoyed support of several politicians, including tens of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) legislators led by Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Suleiman Dori.
In his earlier tours, the legislators would take turns to declare their support for Dr Ruto’s presidency bid ahead of 2022 as they warmed up to him. Matters seemed to have changed on his current visit.
On Saturday, Dr Ruto’s ally, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, did not participate in the DP’s tour of the county.
Only three legislators — Lunga Lunga’s Khatib Mwashetani, Malindi’s Aisha Jumwa and Lamu East’s Sharif Athman — were present.
People close to Mr Mvurya, who did not want to be identified in this story, told the Nation that the governor failed to show up because he had not been involved in inviting the DP, and therefore felt left out.
“It is all about politics. And we are aware that the Deputy President was invited by Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani and this might have angered the governor. The governor has endorsed his deputy Fatuma Achani, and by virtue of attending the functions could have been seen as endorsing Mr Mwashetani,” said the source.
The Nation also learnt that Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori has been missing because he has been sick for a while now.
However, on Friday, the second day of his five-day tour during which Dr Ruto visited Kilifi, the Nation learnt that the brigade of MPs was also missing, with only seven of them present.
The MPs who attended the Kilifi function were Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, Said Haribae (Galole), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), nominated Senator Christine Zawadi, Ali Wario (Bura), Rehema Hassan (Tana River), Shariff Athman (Lamu East), Badi Twalib (Jomvu) and Kaloleni MP Paul Katana.
On Thursday when he started his tour in Tana River, only one MP from the region, Mr Ali Wario (Bura) attended.
Others who accompanied him in Tana River were Igembe South’s John Paul Mwirigi and Adan Ali of Mandera East.
On both occasions, the top county leaders, including Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and Tana River’s Dhado Godhana, were also no show.
On Sunday, Dr Ruto visited Taita-Taveta County where the county boss, Mr Granton Samboja, also failed to show up.
Mr Samboja was conspicuously absent at Bughuta, where the DP helped to raise funds for over 40 local churches in Kasigau Ward.
Area MPs Jones Mlolwa (Voi), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), Lydia Haika (Woman Rep) and a number of MCAs attended the event.
Also present were Mr Mwashetani and Benjamin Tayari of Kinango from Kwale County.
Prof Hassan Mwakimako, a Coast-based political analyst, said the absence, especially of ODM MPs, was as a result of the problems Mr Dori and Ms Jumwa faced with their party.
“We saw the MPs being summoned and actions threatened against them. This move by ODM made others to feel afraid of accompanying the DP, but his (Ruto) absence also saw him lose the base had created for himself,” said Prof Mwakimako.
He added that Dr Ruto’s break of his tour of the region could have been deliberate as he reads the region’s political mood, which is currently not active at all.
Prof Mwakimako said Dr Ruto’s return appears a strategy as he seeks alternative leaders to support his presidential bid.