BATTLE FOR CONTROL

Raila Coast tour plot to 'reclaim' region, lock Ruto out

ODM leader met aspirants for Msambweni by-election with aim to claim seat

In Summary

• Ruto has been to the region twice—to Mombasa and Taita Taveta, in the last four weeks. 

• On Wednesday and Thursday, Raila toured Taita Taveta with Governor Granton Samboja making a significant appearance in the meetings. 

Mombasa Deputy Governor William Kingi, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at Wild Waters Complex in Mombasa on Saturday.
'THE ORANGE COUNTY': Mombasa Deputy Governor William Kingi, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at Wild Waters Complex in Mombasa on Saturday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

ODM chief Raila Odinga’s tour of the Coast has seen some renegade MPs return to the fold as the party seeks to flex its muscle in the region and fend off overtures from Deputy President William Ruto.

His latest tour comes just days after Ruto made a quick trip to Taita Taveta.

Ruto has been to the region twice—to Mombasa and Taita Taveta, in the last four weeks, with insiders saying he is planning a third tour to Kilifi county’s Chonyi in a week. 

He met religious leaders at Lumo Sanctuary while in Mombasa, he held a series of meetings with religious leaders, women and opinion leaders.

He was accompanied by Jubilee’s Lydia Haika (Woman Representative), former Senator Dan Mwazo and former Governor John Mruttu.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Raila toured the county with Governor Granton Samboja making a significant appearance in the meetings. 

Samboja is a Wiper party member but ODM is looking to bring him closer, according to party secretary-general Edwin Sifuna. 

“If you continue supporting Raila, the party will support you,” the SG said.

In Mombasa on Saturday, Jomvu MP Badi Twalib for the first time in almost two years attended an ODM function at the Wild Waters Complex for a grassroots leaders’ meeting also attended by Raila. 

Twalib—who was voted in on an ODM ticket in 2017 after previously winning on a Wiper ticket—had shifted allegiance to DP Ruto, ruffling feathers in Mombasa, the backyard of deputy party leader Hassan Joho (host governor).

He was one of the MPs who had been de-whipped from the National Assembly committees but has since apologised to the party and was reinstated to the Budget and Appropriation committee.

However, the MP says he was never actually kicked out, but did not expound.

“I was never kicked out,” Twalib said.

The popular MP is seen as a key cog in ODM as he controls most of the votes in Jomvu. 

Raila’s tour of Kwale on Friday is the most significant.  

Ruto has increasingly had a foothold in the county, with three out of the four constituencies being held by Tanga Tanga-leaning MPs.

Lunga Lunga’s Khatib Mwashetani, Kinango’s Benjamin Tayari and Matuga’s Kassim Tandaza (ANC) are all leaning towards the DP.

The Msambweni constituency by-election has gained more significance as ODM wants wants to win.

On Friday, Raila met ODM aspirants for the seat with the aim of listening to their cries and assessing their strengths. 

Omar Boga, Nicholas Zani, Mariam Akinyi and Feisal Dori [late MP Suleiman Dori’s nephew], in private, at his hotel suite at the Diani Reef.

Zani and Boga are experienced politicians, and the contest is hot between the two who both want direct nomination. 

Raila, however, said they should all agree to support one of them or go for primaries.

The tide, however, leans more towards Zani due to his loyalty to the party.

Boga, who vied for the seat on an independent ticket after losing the ODM primaries, later became the Green Party Movement coordinator.

The Green Party Movement is associated with former Ndiwa MP Agostino Neto, a Ruto ally.

Raila wants to regain the county whose Governor Salim Mvurya, also a Jubilee member, is known to be a Ruto ally. 

“Kwale is a key county for Raila and Ruto. The two want to control the county because it is also believed to be have enormous economic potential. There are whispers there is a hill with untapped mineral resources,” a political operative in the county said.

Zani said the Orange colour is slowly returning to the county. 

“At some point, there were impurities but now we are making sure the original orange colour returns to Kwale,” Zani said.

Political commentator Mwakuja Mrombo said if Msambweni does not get a strong ODM legislator who can campaign for ODM at the grassroots, the orange party is at great risk of dying in Kwale. 

“The race (by-election) is not just about who will become Msamwbeni MP. It is about whether DP will be able to infiltrate Kwale completely or not,” Mrombo said.

Edited by R.Wamochie 

ODM leader Raila Odinga, his deputy Hassan Joho and Msambweni MP seat aspirant Nicholas Zani at Msambweni on Friday.
STRONG TEAM ODM leader Raila Odinga, his deputy Hassan Joho and Msambweni MP seat aspirant Nicholas Zani at Msambweni on Friday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO