Jubilee politician Suleiman Shahbal has lifted the lid on the 2017 chaotic Jubilee campaigns in Mombasa that bungled their chances of victory in the race for the county’s top seat.
Speaking on the issue for the first time since the elections, Shahbal said the Jubilee campaigns were marred with inhouse problems that made it difficult to succeed.
“The 2017 election was very problematic within Jubilee, because there were two parallel campaigns being run at the same time,” he told the Star on the phone on Friday.
“And these two campaigns were not necessarily working together.”
Despite putting on a brave face at the time, Shahbal noted that the differences, which were an open secret, ruined their chances of victory.
“There was a lot of animosity that was created within the Jubilee fraternity,” he said.
The two camps within the ruling party were led by Shahbal and former Kisauni MP Ananiah Mwaboza, who also wanted to run for governor on the Jubilee ticket.
This forced Deputy President William Ruto to intervene, forcing a deal between Shahbal and Mwaboza, who became the banker’s running mate.
On Friday, Shahbal said he took a one-year sabbatical in 2018 to reflect on his political future.
“When you come out of a 15-round boxing match, you don’t jump into the ring again quickly. First, you think, you analyse. What we did right and what we did wrong.”
Hassan Joho retained his governor seat after garnering 221,363 votes, beating Shahbal to second place with 69,429 votes.
Former Mombasa senator Hassan Omar was third with 43,790 votes.
Mombasa has 580,223 voters. Jubilee failed to capture any seat in the county.
Joho’s ODM party scooped the governor seat, senator seat (Mohamed Faki), and woman representative position (Asha Mohamed).
ODM also scooped the Mvita (Abdulswamad Nassir), Jomvu (Badi Twalib), Changamwe (Omar Mwinyi), and Likoni (Mishi Mboko) MP seats.
Kisauni MP seat went to Wiper’s Ali Mbogo and the Nyali MP seat was won by independent candidate Mohammed Ali.
The Orange party also won 27 of the available 30 MCA seats in the county.
Wiper won the Kipevu ward seat and had Faith Mwende elected as MCA, Ford Kenya had Ahmed Khamisi (Majengo Ward), while Feddis Mbura was elected after vying as an independent candidate.
And in a surprising departure from the old confrontational style of politics, Shahbal has now called for a truce on the political animosity between him and Joho.
He said confrontations are a waste of time, energy and resources and declared there is need for all Mombasa and Coast politicians to come together and strategise on how they can work together for the benefit of Mombasa and Coast people as a whole.
“2018 was a period of re-assessment and re-strategising. We need to sit down as Coast and Mombasa politicians and come up with a common strategy,” he said.
“Because Joho and I might be disagreeing on parties and on approaches and all that but at the end of the day we are both Mombasa politicians and we want to do what is good for the people of Mombasa and the people of the Coast in general,” Shahbal said.
He called for the formation of a regional bloc to strengthen Coast region’s bargaining power.
He joins calls by both Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi who have been championing for a regional bloc that will help improve the economy of the Coast and empower the people.
“Western is negotiating as a bloc. Mudavadi is sitting down with (Ford Kenya leader Moses) Wetang’ula, (Devolution CS Eugene) Wamalwa and everybody to discuss as Western. The North Eastern is doing the same thing. Central are doing the same thing,” said Shahbal.
However, he noted, Coast leaders are still considering themselves as individuals and individual communities.
“We have to get our act together,” said Shahbal. “So, my thinking is, number one, we will have to get together as Coastal politicians and agree on a common strategy.”
ODM Mombasa chair and nominated MCA Mohammed Hatimy yesterday welcomed Shahbal’s overtures, saying unity, peace and tranquillity will enhance Mombasa’s economy.
“Joho said it a long time ago that he wants a handshake with everybody in Mombasa. He said the handshake should start at home in Mombasa before spreading to the other parts of the Coast,” Hatimy told the Star on phone, Sunday.
Shahbal said a regional bloc will give Coast greater bargaining power at the national level. He said Coast has to carve out its position at the national level.