Joho takes the walk of shame after handshake scuttles Raila succession plan
- The handshake left outspoken governor in a difficult place, not knowing whether to embrace or oppose it
- Mombasa governor has received delegations of Jubilee politicians and has hosted Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi
Governor Ali Hassan Joho has finally read the signs of the times and feebly welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta to Mombasa.
In what can be interpreted as either an olive branch from Mombasa’s top politician to the country’s supreme leader or a throwing in of the towel, Joho said it was never too late to turn over a new leaf.
An ambitious politician harbouring a desire for the presidency, Joho has made a name by insulting the presidency and its hangers on, even declaring himself enemy number one of the executive.
He is among a number of politicians left high and dry following the reconciliation between Uhuru and Opposition chief Raila Odinga, who has been a defining factor in Joho’s political path for years.
Like many of his fellow governors serving their second and final terms, Joho will be looking at 2022 and beyond as he seeks to align himself with the powers of the day, lest he finds himself in the cold.
In the recent past, he has hosted a retinue of Jubilee politicians who were his sworn enemies barely months ago. Officially, these politicians claim they visited Joho out of courtesy when touring his county.
But inside sources suggest the governor is now the object of intense maneuvers by top Jubilee, Kanu and NASA seeking to secure a formidable ally in him.
On Thursday, he welcomed Baringo Senator and Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi at his office for a hearty ‘handshake’.
“We talked about the important issue of cohesion and we will continue with the conversation. We thank Gideon for the visit,” said the governor, adding that the Coast region will move quickly to build bridges with the rest of Kenyans.
Gideon described Governor Joho as an extremely important person in the politics of the Coast region.
“Our coming here is all about building bridges and walking the talk. Let’s focus on bettering the lives of our people,” said the Kanu party leader.
Joho’s longevity in the coastal political scene has largely benefited from his bare knuckle attacks on President Kenyatta and his presidency. Some feel the absence of a target in his present political journey has rendered him weakened in local politics.
Now, post the Uhuru-Raila handshake, the focus has shifted back to him. His governorship, which for long periods was hidden behind the animosity between Jubilee and NASA, is being interrogated more closely.
Personal failures such as the degeneration of services in the city are coming more into focus. Without an antagonist, a role President Kenyatta played perfectly, some say Joho is finding it hard to politic and his hand has been forced into conceding some ground to previously perceived enemies.
He is facing a daunting task to clean up the city, battle frequent outbreak of diseases like Chikungunya and cholera and account to billions of shillings the county has received from the national government, an issue flagged by the Audito General’s report.
Joho himself has let out little or nothing about what he seeks in meeting ‘enemies’ or the nature of engagement he wants with them. But a source who attended one of the meetings between the governor and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa said Joho insisted that any future dialogue and engagement should be based on people’s interests and comprehensive reform.
Mombasa county communications director Richard Chacha said the visits by a section of Jubilee politicians in what was previously regarded as a no go zone for them and said more leaders from Jubilee were scheduled to meet the governor.
“Such visits on governor Joho are welcome. In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies,” Likoni MP Ms Mishi Mboko said.
Closer home, Joho is also facing a crisis in confidence. His erstwhile side kick and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi is growing into his own man and is looking at challenging the once assumed position of Joho as coast’s supreme political leader.