• It is unacceptable that many residents are squatters on their own land.
• Grabbers cloaked as investors take over ancestral property and set up businesses that offer scant if any benefits
One year after the handshake, zero has been done for the Coast.
It’s been slightly over a year since the historic handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
However, at the Coast, there is nothing to celebrate because the region has continued to be sidelined.
The tourism and hotel industry, the bedrock of the Coast economy, was one of the worst affected in the aftermath of the disputed 2017 election. This had a ripple effect of causing investor losses running into billions of shillings, leaving residents who depended on the sector struggling to make ends meet.
With the March 9 handshake, one would think the government would consider the Coast when 'distributing' fruits of the deal, considering what the region has suffered. No such thing has happened.
The Coast is still marginalised and treated like an afterthought. From state appointments to projects, the region seems to feature nowhere; and in the few instances it does, it has less than lucrative places with little prominence and usefulness nationally.
Since the Building Bridges Initiative started collecting views from residents countrywide, the Coast has been on the back burner position. The BBI team started work in July last year and was scheduled to hold fora at the Coast in November. But the two meetings in Mombasa and Malindi were cancelled 'for lack of funds'.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi’s team had prepared a detailed presentation but received a call from BBI chairman Yussuf Haji saying the meetings were cancelled. The BBI team finally went to Mombasa and Malindi on December 5 and 6, but it's unclear whether the recommendations will see the light of day.The Coast is clear that it will only support a referendum if the historical injustices residents have suffered since Independence, including the land issue, are addressed.
It is unacceptable many residents are squatters in their own land as grabbers cloaked as investors take over their ancestral property and set up businesses that offer negligible if any, benefits. Some projects have been harmful.
One proposal to the BBI forum was the creation of a Public Investment Commission to oversee equity in national projects.
It's is no secret the Coast has not benefitted from successful national projects. In my column two weeks ago, I talked about the Galana Kulalu project, now a white elephant. That's been the story of projects in the region.
Another proposal was for counties to have the lion’s share of Treasury allocations. Then counties would not be left to the mercy of the national government and they would be able to forge their own future.
But as it stands, the state still controls the lion’s share of funds and it has proven a struggle on many occasions for counties to get even the small allocation set aside for them. This makes it difficult to plan for projects and pay salaries and suppliers on time.
In Malindi, the importance of Coast’s unity was reiterated as a baseline for discussions on a referendum.
In state appointments, Coast residents been slapped in the face.
Just about every region received the fruits of the handshake through senior appointments to prestigious positions in parastatals, except the Coast.
The biggest beneficiary was Raila, having been appointed AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development. Many of Raila and Uhuru’s allies were also appointed to parastatals.
Hours after Raila and Uhuru met the BBI panel in September last year, a list of parastatal appointees was released. These were beneficiaries of the handshake.
The list is long, but let’s mention a few: Nasa CEO Norman Magaya (director of the Kenya Film Classification Board), ODM Women's League national chairperson Beth Syengo (Bomas of Kenya Board), ODM secretariat official David Osiany (member, Chemelil Sugar Board) and former Kisumu governor aspirant Christine Atieno (Chemelil Sugar Board).
From the Jubilee side, they include Dorice Donya, who unsuccessfully ran for Kisii woman rep, (Sony Sugar Board). Andrew Musangi, who was the Jubilee Party chairman (chairman of Public Procurement Regulatory Board). Faith Waigwa, a former LSK vice chairperson who served as a Jubilee official, was appointed the chairperson, the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board.
In the Rift Valley, Zedekiah Bundotich, popularly known as Buzeki, landed the chairman post at Chemelil Sugar.
In Western, former Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga was appointed the chairman of the National Environment Trust Fund. Former Vihiga MP Yusuf Chanzu was appointed to the Consolidated Bank board.
In Eastern, former Wiper chairman David Musila was appointed to chair the National Museums of Kenya. Former Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao was appointed to the EPZ board. Former Mwingi North MP John Munuve was named member and the non-executive chairperson of the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority.
At the Coast, what did we get?
Former Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu was the only name that featured on the list and it was not for chairman. He was appointed a member of the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority.
Appointments are not the only area where the Coast has been marginalised. Other regions have also benefitted in projects.
In Nyanza, the government is now making a deliberate effort to remove the hyacinth after Raila launched a dredging project. Kisumu is also one of the four counties chosen to pilot the Universal Health Coverage. The other counties are Nyeri, Machakos and Isiolo. No county from the Coast.
In the Rift Valley, when farmers complained following payment delays from the NCPB, the government stepped in and allocated additional Sh2 billion to pay them. At the Coast, Galana Kulalu is failing and what has the government done? The project is limbo. The ministry differs with Israeli contractor after production levels and deadlines were not met, yet the bulk of payment has already been made.
It is unfair for the Coast not to benefit from the handshake since we are perceived, though wrongly so, to be an ODM stronghold. In fact, the Coast has more politically elected representation than Nyanza where Raila, the biggest beneficiary of the handshake, comes from.
This brings me to another point, ODM has enjoyed support from several politicians at the Coast, but Raila has not been proactive in returning the favour. Case in point is Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who has been dragged through the mud by the party but remains fearless.
If the handshake was meant to bring unity, why is Jumwa being unfairly targeted? She apologised for associating with Deputy President William Ruto, but the National Executive Council would hear none of it and proceeded to expel her from a party she defended fiercely.
Yet Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori, who had also openly supported Ruto, was pardoned after apologising. Jumwa’s treatment gives credence to Ruto’s assertions that women are not given a fair hearing in ODM.
You who've masqueraded as a champion of women, now in your true colours expel a woman elected in her own right after defeating men and blackmail her to kneel and worship you as an 'apology.' Crime? Associating with elected DP of the GoK you have a 'handshake' with. Tragically deceitful.Deputy President William Ruto
The Political Parties Tribunal has extended conservatory orders barring ODM from expelling Jumwa pending determination of the complaint she lodged. It's unfair to put her through this.
If the handshake was meant to unite Kenyans and kill the opposition, then why continue to marginalise the Coast? Why chase our fearless, courageous female MP out of a handshake party?
How specifically has the handshake helped the region?
Politics is local, and looking at the regions that benefited, there exists a political party — a national political party — but with roots in those regions.
Bearing in mind the dissatisfaction coming from Pwani, where our elected leaders have openly talked about looking for options come 2022, and the formation of a unifying national political party in the region — Umoja Summit Party of Kenya — the option looks rather obvious.
Though the elected leaders in the handshake parties are not supporting the outfit now for obvious reasons, as we head to 2022, I can see Pwani will realise that supporting a unifying national political party with homegrown roots is the only option to gain respect from big brother parties that have divided and ruled the region.
The region has finally found a vehicle it can use to negotiate for handshake projects and appointments.
Pwani now has two years to kujipanga to avoid kupangwa come 2022.
Cidi is the interim Secretary General, USPK