COAST AGENDA—UMOJA

Divided Coast receives crumbs, united it’ll get a slice of the cake

Individual efforts must be discouraged at all costs.

In Summary

• Every region, except Coast, has a dominant party and they are all planning who to front as presidential candidate in 2022 polls.

• Assumption that some leaders such as Mombasa Governor Joho and Kilifi’s Kingi are the gatekeepers of the Coast is misplaced.

Coast MPs led by Ali Mbogo (Kisauni) at a press conference where they opposed the approval by the National Assembly of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposal to a joint take over of the Second Container Terminal by Kenya National Shipping Line and a Swiss firm, on July 3.
Coast MPs led by Ali Mbogo (Kisauni) at a press conference where they opposed the approval by the National Assembly of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposal to a joint take over of the Second Container Terminal by Kenya National Shipping Line and a Swiss firm, on July 3.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The current state of political confusion has left the country in limbo and the Coast has not been spared. Top leaders have been throwing words at each other and engaging in blame games at the expense of development.

Now, more than ever, the Coast needs to be unified and to take a stand as 2022 approaches. As it is, the Coast is in limbo, caught up in fights that detract from the bigger picture of demanding a place on the national stage.

Take, for example, the issue of the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line. Coast leaders are speaking from different scripts, making it difficult for the region to fight for its position.

 

One group is calling for the nationalisation of the second container terminal, CT2, in Mombasa, arguing that allowing a private firm to run it alongside the KNSL could lead to job losses. But that is not the case. In fact, it would lead to job creation through efficient management.

I applaud President Uhuru Kenyatta's proposal to have KNSL and a Swiss firm jointly run the terminal.

This idea of everyone doing their own thing is why the Coast has not been able to fight for a significant number of people from the region to be appointed to top posts such as CSs, PSs, ambassadors and parastatal chiefs.

Coast leaders need to come together and speak with one voice on issues of national importance if we are to be taken seriously and given a seat at the national table.

That is what the Umoja Summit Party of Kenya (USPK) is calling for — unity of the Coast people. We as the Coast people should not lie to ourselves that we can get any significant negotiating power when we have failed to unite and speak in one voice.

Let’s face it, every region, except the Coast, has a dominant party associated with it and they are all planning whom they will front as their presidential candidate in 2022. Meanwhile, the people at the Coast are caught up in endless fighting.

It is for this reason that Coast leaders couldn’t adequately fight for projects such as Galana-Kulalu, and it is for the same reason the region has continued to suffer and has not been compensated for historical land injustices.

The USPK seeks to fill the void of leadership at the Coast and is urging all leaders to join hands and go to the national negotiating table and fight for the good of the people.

 

A few leaders at the Coast cannot sit in closed rooms and then come out and declare who the region will front as its presidential candidate.

That cannot work. It is the people who determine who they want to support as their presidential candidate.

This idea of everyone doing their own thing is why the Coast has not been able to fight for a significant number of people from the region to be appointed to top posts such as CSs, PSs, ambassadors and parastatal chiefs.

If the region were united, we could go to the national table and say, 'the Coast wants a certain percentage of CS posts and the like because we are united and we bring a significant number of votes to the table'.

The region would be able to demand control of the Port of Mombasa, more jobs and investment opportunities. We would also be able to take control of the Blue Economy, Galana-Kulalu and other government projects in the region.

The USPK, or simply Umoja Party, seeks to bring the Coast together because it is a national party that understands the needs of the people. We want to loop in all communities at the Coast to form a united front that can negotiate on the national stage.

If the region were united, we could go to the national table and say, 'the Coast wants a certain percentage of CS posts and the like because we are united and we bring a significant number of votes to the table'. The region would be able to demand control of the Port of Mombasa, more jobs and investment opportunities. We would also be able to take control of the Blue Economy, Galana-Kulalu and other government projects in the region.

ODM has previously had some support in the region, but what has it done in the 10 years it received support from the people? It relied on poisoning the people by saying Jubilee is bad, that it was corrupt and was not interested in addressing historical land injustices.

That song cannot be sung anymore. Results have to be seen on the ground and ODM has not produced any fruit. In fact, Jubilee has brought some development to the region, including the construction of roads. What can ODM say it has done in 10 years?

If ODM leader Raila Odinga wants to run for president and is looking for partners in every region, including the Coast, why hasn’t he come to talk to USPK?

The assumption that some leaders such as Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Kilifi’s Amason Kingi are the gatekeepers of the Coast is misplaced.

Kingi comes from the largest community at the Coast — the Mijikenda and specifically Giriama. But if he wants to go for the presidency he cannot stand alone and say that being from the majority tribe is enough to make him the Coast’s presidential candidate.

He needs to consult the people. He cannot go and sit in a room without involving key stakeholders and then declare himself a presidential candidate. The same goes for Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who does not even have a constituency to stand on and says he is bringing votes from Pwani.

The Mijikenda is the majority tribe at the Coast and stating the fact doesn’t mean one is being tribal. Each region has a majority tribe, which has a strong say during voting. In Central, it’s the Kikuyu; in Nyanza, it's the Luo; in Rift Valley, it's the Kalenjin; in Eastern, it's the Kamba; in Western, it's the Luhya and at the Coast, it’s the Mijikenda.

This is not to mean that the Mijikenda want to kick out people from other tribes, it just means that the majority tribe has a stronger say in setting the political agenda for the region.

The Coast is blessed with young and upcoming politicians who must stand up, unite and demand our rightful place in national politics. Individual efforts must be discouraged at all costs.

The likes of vocal Aisha Jumwa, Mishi Mboko, Owen Baya, Paul Katana, Ken Chonga, Michael Kingi, Boy Juma Boy, Majala Mulagui, Fahim Twaha, and other young elected leaders must unite and demand implementation of the Coast agenda as clearly known by the powers that be.

It’s time for all leaders from the region — political, religious, cultural — to unite and demand the implementation of the Coast agenda.