Mombasa assembly unanimously passes BBI Bill

All 42 MCAs were present and voted for the Bill, mostly citing more cash and constituencies

In Summary

• On Tuesday, Speaker Aharub Khatri dismissed those opposing the BBI Bill, saying they are enemies of development.

• Politician Suleiman Shahbal, who is eying the Mombasa governor seat, called for more sober dialogue on BBI going forward. Called it a great economic opportunity exploited by politicians. 

Mombasa county MCAs celebrate after passing the BBI Bill on February 23.
BBI PARTY: Mombasa county MCAs celebrate after passing the BBI Bill on February 23.

Mombasa county on Tuesday passed the BBI Bill as momentum built in assemblies for constitutional change.

The vote in the 42-member assembly was unanimous.

At the time of voting, Mombasa was county number 28, four more than the 24 assemblies required to hold a referendum after going to Parliament.

Thirty-five counties have passed the Bill.

Speaking to the Star on the phone, politician Suleiman Shahbal, who is eying the Mombasa governor's seat in 2022, called for a more sober dialogue on the document going forward. He supports BBI.  

He called BBI more economic than political but said the political class has confused the public by making political statements, both negative and positive, against and for it.

“BBI is the greatest issue we have now, and we must all make an informed decision,” he said.

“We must face the bullets of negative public opinion until the public fully understands the real [BBI] issues,” he said.

BBI campaigning has coincided with calls for unity of the Coast region, which Shahbal said is currently a pipe dream.

“Coastal unity is an elusive mirage and the sooner coastal politicians come to terms with it and move on the better for all of us,” he said.

The businessman and banker said tlk of a Coast party does not augur well, especially for Mombasa residents, because they are cosmopolitan and may feel excluded. 

Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal at Sheikh Zayed Hall on February 13.
UNITY MIRAGE: Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal at Sheikh Zayed Hall on February 13.

“Our political future lies in taking part in national parties and claiming our stake. Talk of creating our own Coast party and using it as a negotiation platform is disingenuous. Given our different political and economic interests, who will they be representing?” Shahbal asked. 

He said the BBI would increase resources from 15 per cent to 35 per cent, create new constituences and ward funds.

“Devolution without resources is a pipe dream. The increase in resources will make it work. This is the most important contribution of BBI for the Coast,”  Shahbal said.

Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi has been going round the county popularising BBI.

On Saturday, Saburi toured Katama, Bofu and Shakahola villages in Magarini, urging residents to support BBI.

“It is straightforward. The BBI is allocating 35 per cent of national resources to the counties,” he said.

Saburi said the document is aimed at bringing total development to the counties.

“Those opposing BBI are wrongfully led by hungry people who only want to shoot devolution down by concentrating resources at the national level instead,” the deputy governor said.

“We cannot have people in this era opposed to stronger regional governance just because certain conditions do not favour their personal interests. That is wrong,” Saburi said.

“They are only good at whipping up emotions to cause chaos. They are not development-oriented,” he said.

Most politicians at the Coast are banking on BBI to boost their reelection chances.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi are both serving their second and last terms.

Although they have declared their intentions to run for the presidency, insiders say they are actually interested in other positions that will be created if BBI passes in a referendum.

Sources in Joho's camp say his Plan B is to run for one of the three constituencies that would be created in Mombasa by BBI. 

“Joho is actually eying one of the two deputy prime minister positions that would be created. The BBI says one must be an MP to be appointed to that seat,” a Joho ally said.

Kingi, who was a proponent of a coastal party, is also interested in one of the deputy prime minister positions. He now says he doesn't want a separate Coast party but a Coast alliance of existing parties.

The two leaders have not publicly declared their interest in these position but have said the Coast must be in government to benefit.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris