UHURU MOVES TO NEUTRALISE CORD IN COAST
MOTIVATED by a growing rebellion by some Coast MPs against the Opposition, President Uhuru Kenyatta has used his annual August holidays stay in Mombasa to build up more support for the Jubilee Government.
The President took a charm offensive to Cord strongholds in Mombasa County at the weekend by dining with area MPs in a small restaurant, drinking madafu and even enjoying a stroll along the section of the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach popularly known as Pirates, in a n all-day bonding session and tour with the legislators.
Uhuru, who has increasingly cut an image of a down-to-earth, meet-the-people president, listened keenly to residents during his many stopovers in the coastal city.
He effectively won over the populous Mijikenda community after Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro led Cord parliamentarians from Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties to take the Head of State on an all-day tour of Coast, from morning to evening.
On Saturday, the 12 MPs, mostly from the lower Coast region, were with the President for breakfast at a Mombasa hotel.
They then went to Kilifi town for lunch and a-meet-the-people return journey with stopovers at Mtwapa, Shanzu and the ever-packed Pirates’ beach.
The President received his warmest reception at the Coast since he entered office – even from his strongest and most frequent critics, such as Kilifi county women’s representative Aisha Jumwa, who was jovial and said they were having a good day with the Head of State.
“We are privileged today to see President Uhuru’s most down-to-earth side. He has decided to have a good moment with the Coast leadership. Our next destination is Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, popularly known as Pirates,” Jumwa said.
The President had lunch at Baraka Hotel with the Coast MPs, as eager residents waited for him outside the establishment.
He assured tourists of their safety as he toured the beach, mobbed by revellers. “Let me assure tourists and locals visiting the beaches on the Coast that their safety is guaranteed,” said the President.
The MPs accompanying the President said they had resolved to rise above party politics and will work with the Government to accelerate development in their constituencies.
Accompanying the President on his Saturday tour from Kilifi County were Mun’garo, Jumwa, Ganze’s Peter Shehe, Rabai’s William Kamoti, Kilifi South’s Mustafa Iddi and Malindi’s Dan Kazungu.
From Kwale were Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Kinango’s Gonzi Rai and women’s rep Zainab Chidzuga, with only Matuga MP Hassan Mwanyoha skipping the tour.
Mombasa legislators Masoud Mwahima (Likoni) and Mvita’s Abdulswamad Sharrif Nassir were on the day-long tour, barely three days after Governor Hassan Joho and women’s rep Mishi Mboko seemed to be extra careful what they said in their speeches in the President’s presence.
The leaders called for closer working cooperation between the national and county governments, saying that is the way to move the country forward, not empty politics.
The leaders made assurances that they will not blindly support the clamour for a referendum and vowed to support the Government in its development agenda.
Mboko, otherwise a fiery proponent of the Cord agenda, told the President: “You are a genuine leader who is dedicated to working for and uniting all Kenyans. Other leaders should emulate you. Extend to Governor Joho the same olive branch you have extended to other leaders and work with Mombasa County for development.”
Mung’aro, who was dropped as Cord Minority Whip only in July, said Coast leaders are capable of making their own decisions and will not agree to be forced into rubber-stamping resolutions passed by others, including the call for a referendum.
“Hatutapewa amri na mtu yeyote (We will not be ordered about by anyone). If there is eight billion shillings billion available, we would want it used on developing our region’s infrastructure, not on a referendum aimed at massaging some people’s egos” Mung’aro declared.