Fourteen Coast MPs Friday told off Cord leaders over the appointment of Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu as the new Minority Chief Whip insisting their choice remains Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro.
In the exacerbating battle for control of Coast politics between President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, the MPs expressed their disappointment that Cord had decided to drop Mr Mung’aro from the position.
Cord accuses Mr Mung’aro of sleeping on the job and cosying up to Jubilee.
Speaking after holding an hour’s private session at Bahari Beach Hotel in Mombasa on Friday, MPs drawn from all the six counties at the Coast challenged the Cord leadership to tell them why they declined to honour their choice.
“On Tuesday, during the Cord Parliamentary Group meeting we were told to meet and select one of our own to replace Mr Mung’aro for undisclosed reasons. But when we met the next day (Wednesday) we decided to retain him because there were no charges preferred against him,” they said.
Through Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori, the MPs said they would not leave the Cord coalition or respective parties.
Missing the point
“Those telling us to quit are missing the point. The point here is that our decision on Munga’ro was rejected by the principals who, in their wise decision, picked Mwadeghu for the same position without our consent,” they said.
Rabai MP William Kamoti (ODM) said they were protesting the coalition leaders’ decision because it went against their wishes to have Mr Mung’aro retained as the Minority Whip.
According to him, Mr Mung’aro should have been given a chance to explain himself to the Cord principals saying that the Kilifi North MP was not given a fair hearing.
The Kilifi Woman Representative Aisha Jumwa Katana questioned the choice of Mr Mwadeghu. “Where they got Mr Mwadeghu’s name is still a puzzle to us and we would like them to clarify,” she said.
Asked whether they would continue cooperating with the Jubilee Government, Kilifi South MP Mustafa Idd said it was not a “sin” to work with the government for the benefit of the people.
On what action they would take if the coalition ignored their demands, Mr Idd said that would be decided after further consultations. “When you drop Mung’aro you have dropped the people of the Coast so we will go back and seek their views before we take action. But you must know we have many options,” he said.
After the press conference the MPs headed to Kilifi township for a rally. In attendance were Mr Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Mr Dori (Msambweni), Mr Kamote (Rabai), Mr Idd (Kilifi South) and Ms Jumwa (Kilifi County). Others were Julius Ndegwa (Lamu West), Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), Dan Kazungu (Malindi), Shariff Athman (Lamu East), Peter Shehe (Ganze), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Hassan Mwanyoha (Matuga), Halima Ware (Tana River County) and Zainab Chidzuga (Kwale County). All the 14 who attended the news conference are in Cord save for Mr Ndegwa (KNC) and Mr Shehe of the Federal Party of Kenya.
Also in attendance were former Cabinet Minister Ali Chirau Mwakwere, Mombasa businessman Suleiman Shahbal who unsuccessfully vied for Mombasa Governor through the Wiper party and Chama Cha Uzalendo chairman Bwanamaka Maur. Of the 38 Coast MPs, 30 were elected on a Cord ticket.
Addressing a crowd at the Kilifi Prisons Grounds, the leaders vowed to field a presidential candidate on the ticket of a party to be formed.
They expressed solidarity with Mr Mung’aro, and urged him not to accept the position even if Cord rescinded its decision.
“We shall have our own political party in 2017 which shall field a presidential candidate. Time has come for this region which has been oppressed for many decades to liberate itself,” said Mr Shehe.
Mr Mung’aro, who spoke emotionally, said his ouster was a big relief because he had been ill-treated in ODM.
He dared the party whose ticket took him to Parliament to remove him from the party list, saying he would return to the voters on any party and sail through.
Political analysts say that by sacking Mr Mung’aro, Cord will push the Coast stronghold into the hands of Jubilee Coalition.
Political analyst and Africa Nazarene University chair of School of Law Prof Morris Mbondenyi thinks the move was a miscalculation.
“If the principals’ idea was to dilute the new-found unity and neutralise the Kilifi North MP’s push for a local party, then they have shot themselves in the foot,” he said.
During Mr Mung’aro’s homecoming party last year, leaders supported what came to be known as the Dabaso Declaration in which they planned to form a party to champion interests of Coast residents.
“The behind-the-scenes process (of forming a party) championed by numerous Coast professionals is on its last stages and it is just a matter of time before it is unveiled,” the don claimed.
He said the Cord luminaries should be wary of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Senator Hassan Omar saying the two are just interested in the Coast kingpin position “without (the) numbers to claim it”.
However, speaking to the Sunday Nation on the phone, Mr Omar was categorical that rebel Coast Cord leaders should resign and seek re-election under any outfit they think would put them back to leadership roles.
“It’s not right for Cord leaders in the region to warm up to the Jubilee Government at the expense of the electorate who are suffering from a myriad of problems under the same administration,” he said.
On Wednesday, President Kenyatta hosted Kwale County leaders led by Governor Salim Mvurya at State House, Nairobi, where a raft of measures to improve the lives of local residents were discussed.
Those present were Kwale Senator Boy Juma Boy and MPs Gonzi Rai (Kinango), Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Dori (Msambweni), Mwanyoha (Matuga) and Woman Representative Chidzuga.
Since the death of Coast political supremos Shariff Nassir in 2005 and Emmanuel Karisa Maitha in 2003, the region has not had a unifying figure.
Those who have tried to fit into their shoes such as Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala have failed to make an impact in the complicated politics of the region separated by two fundamental factors – religion and community interests.
According to Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo, Cord and Minority Leader Francis Nyenze have no legal powers to replace Mr Mung’aro.
“Our three principals should tell us what provision of the coalition agreement or party laws they used to replace Mung’aro,” he said in a telephone interview.
In his view, Mr Mung’aro had been axed because of meeting President Kenyatta. “If this is wrong, why was it not wrong for the former Prime Minister to go to State House and later officiate at the opening of a newly built railway station?” he asked.