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February 19, 2018

How Kingi painted Kilifi Orange and became the kingpin of the Mijikenda

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi receives his certificate for reelection from county returning officer Nelly Illongo at Pwani University on August 11
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi receives his certificate for reelection from county returning officer Nelly Illongo at Pwani University on August 11

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has proven to be the real kingpin of the Mijikenda and the entire county fraternity following his landslide victory in the August 8 general election.

He defended his seat against former Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro of Jubilee Party, who was the Coast Parliamentary Group chairman, and former Labour CS Kazungu Kambi of Kadu Asili.

As the county’s ODM chairman, he also helped the party win 27 out of 35 MCA seats. Kingi also forged victory in all seven parliamentary seats (including for his younger brother Michael Kingi), as well as in the senator and woman representative positions.

All the ODM contenders in the county won with a landslide victory, even as critics accused him of rigging the elections.

The triumph did not, however, come easy, considering the high competition staged by rival political parties and candidates championing for not only Kingi’s downfall but that of ODM in the area, which is its stronghold.

Like his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho, he also found himself in the government’s crosshairs. However, he rode on the attacks as free publicity, terming President Uhuru Kenyatta as his “chief campaigner”.

Today, Kingi boasts of being a ‘king’ who cannot be underrated in his own territory.

Political analysts conversant with Kilifi politics have ruled out any rigging, terming Kingi’s victory as clean, deserved and rightfully won.

 

OPINION LEADERS

Kingi was born and brought up in the rural parts of Magarini, one of the most interior villages.

He is a lawyer by profession and has administration skills gained from experience.

During the political campaigns, the governor laid out a strategy geared towards his and his party’s comprehensive victory.

He aimed to ensure Jubilee did not won a single seat, and that only ODM, not NASA as a coalition, won the majority seats.

It was tough but with proper follow-up and constant review of the strategy, he fulfilled his mission.

First, Kingi set up a secretariat made of political analysts, strategic thinkers, ICT specialists, journalists, bloggers, politicians, opinion leaders and influential personalities conversant with Kilifi politics.

The secretariat was mandated with planning his campaign programme, a strict one that covers all 35 wards.

The governor began with the adopt-a-polling-station strategy initiated by NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga.

He organised meetings with 500 opinion leaders allied to ODM in all the wards.

They met three to four times daily for hours per session, and discussed in the local dialect, Giriama.

Kingi would speak for hours on the agenda of his reelection, the importance of voting for ODM, and the weaknesses of his opponents.

The opinion leaders in turn spread the agenda to the masses in the grassroots.

The governor pushed for the six-piece vote to ensure each of the ODM candidates from MCA to the president was voted for.

The strategy worked for him well, as most Kilifi people were against Jubilee.

To ensure Kadu Asili also did not get support, he used to tell voters that Kambi was Deputy President William Ruto’s project, and voting for him was like voting for Jubilee.

This also worked well for him, as many areas voted for ODM, apart from Kaloleni and parts of Rabai, the home turf of the former CS.

Kingi at times found it difficult to explain to the opinion leaders how projects are implemented, as it emerged there were shoddy projects in some wards that to the governor’s knowledge had been completed.

County executives had misled him about projects that had either been done poorly or did not exist.

However, like in any journey that must have hurdles, this did not deter Kingi from penetrating the ground and getting the goodwill of the people.

He promised voters that immediately after his reelection, he would ‘clear the mess’ and ensure officers failing him are shown the door.

 

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS

Next, Kingi met special interest groups, such as teachers, Muslims, youths, women, church leaders, upcountry communities and persons living with disability.

He listened to their grievances before speaking in local dialect, unless it was a cosmopolitan area.

Most upcountry voters are believed to have voted for Kingi, even if they backed Jubilee in the presidential seat.

Bloggers and social media gurus used Kingi’s meetings to publicise his agenda, and the socialites allied to him would use their social networks to keep him trending on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

One thing remarkable about the governor was his ability in managing time throughout.

In his speeches, he used to tell people that a Raila presidency would reduce the price of unga and create a better economy for the poor.

Locally, he urged them to vote for the other ODM leaders to make it easier for coordination within the party.

Some of the meetings were held at his residence in Kilifi town and others would be on the ground.

At the height of the campaigns, Kingi launched political rallies that were held all over the county, most also using the local dialect.

Those affiliated with NASA did not take Kingi’s strategy of campaigning for ODM well.

He had to call for a crisis meeting of all NASA aspirants, where he made it clear that as ODM’s county chairman, his soul mandate would be to campaign for the party.

Kingi told the candidates he had a rival governor aspirant in NASA (Benjamin Mumba of ANC), so moving round campaigning for NASA would not work well for him.

The candidates left the meeting unconvinced but had to face the reality and continue with the campaigns.

Most of the candidates allied to ODM, particularly Senator Stewart Madzayo, who retained his seat, and former Kibarani MCA Gertrude Mbeyu, rode on the governor’s back throughout the campaigns.

They accompanied the governor to all his functions, as it would be difficult for them to operate single-handedly, since they all were under one party.

The same case applied to the MPs and the MCAs, though these ones had to wait until the governor visited their wards to boost their campaigns due to his presence.

 

OPPONENTS BITTER

Kingi’s rivals from Jubilee, Kadu Asili and Wiper claim the elections were rigged.

They rejected the results announced at the Kilifi tallying centre by the county returning officer Nelly Illongo.

Kingi won by a big margin with 280,686 votes, followed by Mung’aro who garnered 56,447 votes.

Kambi got 44,470 votes, independent candidate Kahindi James Mangi 3,430 votes, and Mumba 2,530 votes.

Immediately after being declared winner, Kingi thanked residents of Kilifi for voting overwhelmingly for ODM in the county, which clearly indicated the area was against Jubilee.

 “The residents have proven that ODM is popular in Kilifi. The governor, senator, woman rep, and all seven MPs are from ODM,” he said.

Kingi said Kilifi people have sent a clear message that they wanted to vote for united leaders and moved away from the tradition of electing leaders who are divided.

Both Mung’aro and Kazungu Kambi have not conceded defeat and have vowed to challenge Kingi’s victory.

Other candidates are also expected to file petitions.

Coast-based political analyst Phillip Mbaji says the Jubilee machinery in coast is to blame for the failure to capture even one seat in Kilifi county.

Mbaji said ODM’s dominance may look abnormal, but Kingi worked hard for the victory.

In the 2013 elections, Jubilee got one parliamentary seat in Magarini, following the victory of Harrison Kombe, who by then was in URP.

There were also MPs Peter Shehe of Ganze, who won on a FPK ticket, and Kaloleni’s Gunga Mwinga of Kadu Asili.

This year, the Kaloleni legislator lost but his Devolution Party of Kenya got one MCA, while two independent candidates also won MCA positions.

 

WHY RIVALS FAILED

Mbaji ruled out any chance of the results being nullified.

“On matters of elections, once they are done, they are done. There might be malpractices, but they were not detected early and not spread all over the county. The anomalies were reported in Kaloleni, and that cannot make the whole county’s results to be nullified,” the analyst said.

Mbaji had also predicted victory for ODM but not by that big a margin, but he finds it possible, based on the way Kingi organised his campaigns.

“Politically, Kingi succeeded in campaigning for ODM. I remember Kingi was campaigning in Rabai during the height of the campaigns. His rallies were well-organised and even transport was provided,” he said.

He said Jubilee’s campaigns were disorganised and that “they got it wrong”.

The Jubilee brigade in Kilifi was led by Mung’aro, former Kilifi South MP Mustafa Idd, and the national chairman of the party Nelson Dzuya.

Dzuya, according to Mbaji, never campaigned or held even a single rally in his home turf Rabai. He failed to convince voters because he does not live there.

Mbaji said Jubilee politicians were also not good orators, unlike Kingi, who is known to be a good speaker with high oratory skills.

Further, Kingi was surrounded by a team of good orators, including some illiterate ones who knew what the rural native Mijikenda wanted to hear.

He said most of those campaigning for Jubilee were not even aware of what Jubilee had done in Kilifi.

“Kilifi leads in terms of appointments by Jubilee, but those campaigning had no facts of what the governor had done,” he said.

“One major thing about Jubilee politicians was the mentality that even if they did not win, they would get government appointments. I wish they are not even appointed so that they get serious when they are given the mandate to campaign in future,” he said.

The analyst said those who were campaigning for Jubilee lost touch with the ground, as the team partly consisted of retirees and former senior government officials who never helped people during their tenure in office.

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