Kwale governor Salim Mvurya’s succession plans have become uncertain after county assembly speaker Sammy Ruwa declared his candidature for governorship in 2022.
The speaker who is doing his second term hails from the same Duruma sub-tribe of Mijikenda with Mvurya, hence complicating the governor’s succession equation.
Mvurya has not hidden the fact that he wants his deputy Fatuma Achani to succeed him. He has been using every available opportunity to market her to voters, claiming she is the only one capable of continuing with his legacy of development if she takes over from him.
Achani is from the Digo community who are known to front many candidates in the elections. The fear among Mvurya camp is that without a united Duruma vote behind the deputy governor, her work would be a tall order.
Indeed, if the ongoing discussion among Digos in social places about who is suitable to succeed Governor Mvurya from the community is anything to go by, Achani’s name comes at the tail end. Those against Achani claim her candidature is a ploy by Mvurya to continue holding the reins through remote control.
Candidates from Digo considered to eclipse the deputy governor in political stature even though in the political cold at the moment, include former Transport minister Chirau Mwakwere and Issa Chipera who was ODM candidate for governor in the last general elections. There is also Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani.
Reports claim that Mwashetani is counting on Mombasa governor Hassan Joho to win the seat. In the last general elections, Joho had boasted that he would ensure Mvurya was not re-elected after he defected to Jubilee. However, this did not happen as Mvurya relied heavily on the Duruma vote to bounce back.
The Durumas have disagreed with the governor’s choice of successor and at the same time opposed his assertions that it is time to give a Digo chance to be governor. The feeling among Durumas is that there exists no MoU with their Digo counterparts to swap the governor seat and as such, everyone should be left to compete.
Mvurya’s standing as a development conscious leader has also been tainted by Auditor General reports that have painted the county administration as corrupt.
For instance, millions of shillings budgeted for completion of the county headquarters were looted and diverted to 2017 political campaigns. A former finance executive reportedly colluded with the county leadership to loot public funds meant for development. The DCI and EACC officials who were later separately dispatched to investigate the thefts were compromised.
Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari, a few months ago claimed millions of shillings budgeted for dams construction by the county had gone missing.
It is against this background that Mvurya’s intention to determine his successor is proving a tall order. The governor’s plots through a section of MCAs to remove the speaker have not worked.
The intention was to remove Ruwa in a bid to weaken him politically ahead of 2022. But the speaker who was a governor candidate in the last general elections on an independent ticket and enjoyed massive support from the Kambas is expanding his influence among the Duruma diminishing the governor’s prospects.