COAST POLITICS

The odds of Jumwa winning a by-election

The Malindi MP is fighting her expulsion by ODM in the courts; if she loses, a b-election will be called

In Summary

• Jumwa was expelled because she vociferously backed DP Ruto's presidential bid, and refused to back down and apologise.

• If Jumwa is to win a by-election, whatever her ticket, she must get the support of Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho. Chances are slim.

 

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa in Kilifi on Friday, May 3
IRON LADY: Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa in Kilifi on Friday, May 3
Image: ALPHONCE GARI

In a video going viral on social media sites, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa is overflowing with praise forDeputy President William Ruto.

In the corrupted religious song, she sings that Ruto has no equal — Hakuna mwingine kama Ruto!  

However, although Jumwa has publicly backed Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid, a blogger from Kilifi county — Jumwa’s backyard — called her praise for the DP "too much"!

 
 

That sentiment is shared, not a day goes by but Aisha is in the limelight.

Politically, Jumwa has also dared ODM and its leadership. Although the party expelled her for supporting the DP and she is fighting the decision in court, she has remained defiant and her support for Ruto appears unstoppable.

A ruling is expected on May 21.

Jumwa was first elected in 2013 as Kilifi Woman Representative on an ODM ticket and became Malindi MP in 2017 on the same party.

Before the 2013 elections, Jumwa was solidly behind Ruto and his then-URP party before she jumped onto the ODM bandwagon. Like all the current ODM elected leaders in Kilifi and across the Coast region, Jumwa was not elected on her own merit.

Rather, she won through the Orange party’s popularity and Raila Odinga’s influence. Thus, if a by-election were to be called in Malindi today — if she loses her legal hallenge to expulsion — should prove a litmus test for the controversial and vocal legislator.

The major obstacle is that there is no alternative to ODM in Kilifi county. ODM is the optimum party and Raila is the most preferred presidential candidate.   Ironically, Jumwa has contributed to the ODM electoral wave in Kilifi and the region.

 
 

In the 2017 elections, for example, ODM won all the significant elective seats, except two of the 35 MCAs. It will not be easy to reverse these gains through a by-election in Malindi.

 
 

Juma has at least three options. The first and the riskiest is to run on a Jubilee Party ticket, but she is likely to lose. And she herself is to blame for the Jubilee malaise as she was among the ODM politicians in Kilifi who contributed to the disdain for the ruling party. Their comments before the March 9, 2018, handshake rendered the Jubilee image irredeemable.

The second option is to vie under one of the available Coast parties, notably the recently launched Umoja Summit Party, Kadu-Asili, Shirikisho Party, the Devolution Party of Kenya and Chama Cha Umma. The problem, however, is that these parties lack financial and organisational resources to mount formidable campaigns to win elections.

Furthermore, some of these parties are embedded in intra-party and intra-clan leadership rivalries, particularly Kadu-Asili. They are also appendages of the larger parties and during elections, they are controlled by politicians from upcountry. This means that choosing one of the local parties would be a gamble for Jumwa.

The third option is to stand as an independent candidate but again, Kilifi voters do not elect persons based on merit but on parties and in this instance, ODM is the party. Even if Jumwa were to be an effective legislator — and she is — without a party, she cannot be reelected in Kilifi.

Then there is the matter of the kingmakers of Kilifi and Coast politics generally.  If Jumwa is to win a by-election irrespective of the party ticket, she must, get the support of Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho.  

Joho has the purse strings and Kingi the logistics. These two governors have been the drivers of ODM electoral successes in the Coast region since 2007. In particular, their influence is most felt in the Mijikenda-populated counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.

Only Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya reads from a different script. In the 2017 elections, Mvurya abandoned ODM to join Jubilee. He was reelected not because of the Jubilee Party, but on his own merit.

However, Jumwa should have a problem with the Kingi-Joho politics of kingmaking. The two governors are not ready to abandon ODM and Raila to see Jumwa win Malindi. In other words, the combined onslaught by Joho and Kingi will decide the winner in the event of a by-election.

Is Jumwa biting off more than she can chew?

 The answer depends on where you stand. Maybe she should slow down and re-think her political strategy and alliances. There is a lot going on in Kenya today that can bite the hand that feeds you. The contemplated constitutional changes are part of these developments. ODM as a social organisation has its own rules and regulations that each member must follow to avoid anarchy from within.

Jumwa has no option but to respect the rules of the game. However, if she feels strongly that her romance with Ruto and the Jubilee Party is unstoppable, the respectable choice is to resign from ODM and seek a fresh mandate under Jubilee. This way, she will prove her political worth and valour through the ballot.

The writer is a commentator on Coast politics.

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