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Simba Arati: Who will tame this ‘lion’?

Sunday November 17 2019

Simba Arati

Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati is a man of contradictions. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

 NYAMBEGA GISESA
By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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Since Jubilee’s disastrous performance in the Kibra by-election, the aftermath has been an unending talk of how fear and violence were used against the party’s agents and mobilisers.

The man who has been blamed for “showing no mercy” to his opponents during the by-election is Simba Arati, the Dagoretti North MP who is the self-styled commander of the so-called ODM Vote Protection Unit.

Jubilee legislators have claimed that the fury and ferocity of his goons made the ground inhospitable.

The accusations range from putting some of the lawmakers under “car arrest”, with hooligans surrounding their cars and ordering them to stay put until the elections were over to roughing them up and beating some of them.

Examples of the atrocities that they faced are many, as they claim.

FIDELITY

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Feisty Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi hid in a pit latrine in order to save himself from rowdy youth who were accusing him of bribing voters.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa was roughed up and stripped off his cap while Belgut MP Nelson Koech claimed that Mr Arati “suspended peace” in Kibra on voting day.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali claims that the men who accosted him carried huge rocks, leaving him with no option other than to flee.

Mr Arati, the man who is accused of leading the group of ODM supporters that combed the constituency in pursuit of Jubilee politicians and supporters whom they accused of engaging in electoral malpractices, is a man of contradictions.

Unlike your quintessential politician, the second-term MP does not drink or smoke.

He does not enjoy social places, does not party and neither does he love the company of nubile damsels.

He is married to one woman (a Chinese) and never misses church. On a personal level, he is warm, charming and humorous.

HEADSTRONG

On the other hand, he has been profiled as a politician who intimidated his opponents through thuggery and violence.

“I am not a violent person. But just like a lion, I can’t keep calm when I am wronged,” he defends himself.

Since he shot to fame as a firebrand nominated councillor in Nairobi in 2007, Mr Arati has always courted controversy.

As a councillor, the ODM politician took head-on the party and the then regional development minister Fred Gumo when he was requested to step down from the race for the ODM ticket in the Nairobi mayoral contest in favour of acting mayor George Aladwa.

He eventually lost but not before giving Mr Aladwa a run for his money.

After the disputed 2017 presidential election, police officers in armoured personnel carriers stormed his residence, surrounded it and put him under house arrest, fearing that he was behind plans to hold a parallel National Super Alliance (Nasa) event during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration.

SPOKESPERSON

After emerging as one of the leading voices in Nasa’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), the government revoked his firearm licence and withdrew his passport and bodyguards.

Mr Arati has also had spats with fellow legislators. At one time, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri bit his hand during an acrimonious debate on the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill.

He also stormed the funeral of a relative of Woman Representative Janet Ong’era in Kisii and when he left, the crowd followed him, disrupting the ceremony.

In Gusiiland, some leaders have criticised his appointment by elders as the Abagusii spokesperson, claiming that he is too young for the position.

As a boy, Mr Arati looked up to Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o for inspiration.

“We were told that he had seven degrees and I wanted to be educated like him,” he says, before adding that the gods conspired to ensure that he never grew a beard like Prof Nyong’o’s.

EDUCATION

He was expelled from Nyamache Secondary School, forcing him to complete his studies at Suneka Secondary School.

After high school, he made a living in Nairobi as a vegetable vendor, selling fruits and sukuma wiki, before sponsoring himself to join Kenya Polytechnic, where he studied for a diploma in tourism management.

He has a master’s degree in international relations and a bachelor’s in business management.

After the Kibra by-election, the joke around town is that if a political opponent troubles you, just call Simba Arati to come with his Vote Protection Unit.