• The CPG elected new officials on Wednesday and the new leadership has pledged a new dawn for the region.
• The region’s Achilles heel has been the lack of unity among leaders, who for decades have sought cohesion but been unable to rebuff outside parties' incursions in search of Coast votes.
The Umoja Summit Party of Kenya has told the new Coast Parliamentary Group leaders to seize the opportunity to unite all leaders in the region.
The CPG elected new officials on Wednesday and the new leadership has pledged a new beginning for the region. USPK is a homegrown Coast party.
On Friday, USPK secretary general Naomi Cidi said the new leadership has its work cut out.
“This is the perfect opportunity for Coast leaders to come together and usher in a new dawn for the region,” Cidi told the Star on phone.
The region’s Achilles heel has been lack of unity among the leaders, who for decades have sought elusive cohesion, especially when it comes to rebuffing outside political interests eyeing the region’s votes.
However, the new CPG leadership with a two-year term, promises something different following decades of unmet expectations, after their election in Parliament Buildings.
The new CPG leadership was elected almost four months after the death of immediate former chairman Suleiman Dori, who was the Msambweni MP.
The new chair is Galole MP Said Hiribae, who will be deputised by Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu as first vice chair and Taita Taveta’s Lydia Haika as the second vice chair.
Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire was elected the CPG secretary, Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama vice secretary.
Vocal Likoni MP Mishi Mboko will be treasurer while Matuga’s Kassim Tandaza will be the organising secretary and whip.
He will be deputised by Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashak.
Zulekha Hassan (Kwale county), Ali Wario (Bura) and Jones Mlolwa (Voi) will be committee members.
Mwambire said the Coast region has not been taken seriously for a long time because it hasn’t taken firm stands and spoken with one voice, however, he assured residents the decisive new team will change that.
“For a long time we have been assumed. We want an opportunity to have our views taken seriously by all of the leaders in the national government,” Mwambire told the Star on the phone on Thursday.
He said the new leadership consists mostly of MPs from minority communities.
In this way, he said, all communities will feel part of the leadership and perhaps come on board to make the region’s voice stronger and louder.
Chair Hiribae is from the Pokomo community, while Mbeyu is from the Kauma subcommunity of the larger Mijikenda community.
Haika is from the Taita community as are Mlolwa and Mwashako.
Traditionally, the Pokomo, the Taita and the Kauma communities have been sidelined because of their small numbers.
The Giriama and the Digo communities, the majority at the Coast, have had most positions in both the counties and the national government.
Wario is from the Ormo community while Muthama is from the Kikuyu community.
Mwambire told the Star that initially the Coast region leadership had been considered a Mijikenda affair.
“Now we want to make it a Coast affair,” Mwambire said.
Mbeyu said the newly elected leaders have as much ability or more than others who could have been elected.
“When we submitted our papers and threw our hats into the ring, the last thing on our minds was being from any minority or majority community,” Mbeyu said.
She said their ideas for the Coast region are aligned.
“Our agenda is to unite and leave aside political factions when it comes to interests of the Coast region and the people,” Mbeyu said.
She said there so little time left before the general election and so much work to do.
“We want our people to benefit from their resources and government projects. The CPG will not look at party issues but what benefits the Coast people,” the Kilifi county MP said.
Chairman Hiribae said the new CPG will have its own way of doing things.
The priority will be residents’ interests and infrastructure will top the agenda, the three said.
That includes the standard gauge railway, which has been a political hot potato. The national government has ordered virtually all cargo from Mombasa port to be transported to the inland container terminal in Mombasa.
This caused widespread anger and left many workers, agents, truckers and other workers unemployed.
The three said they will find amicable ways to resolve issues around the railway to reverse its negative impact on the region.
“As regional leaders, we had a keen interest in the SGR even before the CPG elections,” Mwambire said.
In three weeks, the CPG, which has 39 MPs, will hold a day-long meeting to come up with a Coast legislative agenda.
It will spell out the region’s direction and take stands on national issues.
(Edited by V. Graham)