The battle for Coast region votes between Cord leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the next general elections is dramatically taking a new twist. This week, we can authoritatively reveal that the Jubilee administration, under intense and mounting pressure from the opposition, is keen on wooing the Mombasa governor Hassan Joho to ditch ODM for Jubilee before the forthcoming elections to settle scores with an increasingly formidable opposition.
The person pushing for Joho to join Jubilee is none other than the president himself. President Uhuru is said to be concerned that with all the concentrations Jubilee has made in the region, voters seem not to be satisfied and are still leaning onto the opposition in which Joho is a recognisable and a formidable figure.
President Uhuru and his strategists are heaping blame on the Jubilee pointmen in the region of being lukewarm in advancing Jubilee’s onslaught and hence, the need to inject new blood and resuscitate the party’s drive for votes in the region. Joho to them is the person. President Uhuru is directly said to be reaching out to Joho and too are members of his kitchen cabinet.
Aware that the Coast region overwhelmingly supported Raila in 2013, Jubilee had marked the region as one of the targeted zones that they believe could be a soft landing spot for President Uhuru during next year’s general elections.
To bring Joho on board also, it is said that Othaya MP Mary Wambui is the one assigned the duty to sweettalk Joho’s elder brother Abu to cross over to Jubilee. One may wonder why Jubilee picked on Wambui. Abu is said to be the force behind his young brother political moves.
First, she is said to have been close to the Joho family during the grand coalition government where Wambui was perceived to be close to the PNU centre of power where she cut lucrative deals that saw many climb the ladder.
It has been whispered that Abu and Wambui were business associates in port business where the two landed lucrative government tenders pushed by Wambui through her State House power brokers in the then Mwai Kibaki government.
Analysts say in the first year in office, Jubilee dangled carrots and dished out goodies to the people of Coast region but there were no signs of voters shifting loyalty to Jubilee.
Three years down the line, Jubilee has totally failed to make inroads and penetrate into the opposition stronghold and the man identified to have denied Jubilee that penetration into the region is Joho. It is against this background that a plot has been hatched to ensure that he deserts Raila for President Uhuru ahead of the general elections.
To win Coast region, Jubilee initially mandated William Ruto to play a key role in ensuring ODM allied MPs from the region decamped. Ruto’s major plan which had the blessings of President Uhuru was to sideline, frustrate and scuttle the Joho family.
The first plan by Ruto was to ensure the 2013 Mombasa gubernatorial aspirant on Wiper ticket Suleiman Shahbal crossed over to Jubilee. However, Shahbal, despite his crossing over, has failed to deliver and make headway despite having received heavy funding to lure ODM MPs to decamp. Shahbal and Ruto are business associates in the oil industry.
To win the region, Ruto and President Uhuru ensured that the ministry of Lands hurriedly prepared title deeds for coast residents to lure them to Jubilee.
During the 2013 elections, Joho garnered 132,583 against Shahbal’s 94,905 votes. Shahbal did not concede defeat and petitioned the results and demanded for scrutiny of the votes but after a scrutiny, the figures changed with Joho ganering 132,507 votes while Shahbal got 94,918 votes.
After the election petition against Joho failed, Shahbal and Ruto used state machinery to further frustrate Joho. Shabhal went to court with allegations that Joho’s university degree was fake and wanted the IEBC to declare that he was not validly elected because of the alleged misdemeanor.
However, Kampala University came out to defend Joho’s degree certificate as bona fide, legal and authentic. Vice chancellor Badru Kateregga said the degree was genuinely awarded and cannot be revoked.
Ruto’s plan B to tame Joho and to ensure Jubilee got a foothold in Coast was to frustrate Joho famly’s business and this he pushed with the blessings of Shahbal.
In January this year, two major container depots associated with the Joho family were closed down amid reports that they were linked to smuggling. The Portside and Autoport Container Freight stations were shut down following an executive directive by President Uhuru as police kept a 24-hour vigil on the premises.
Sources say all these were orchestrated to frustrate and cow Joho and to make him accept to play ball with the Jubilee administration. It is also against this background that it is said that Ruto even used state agencies to frustrate Joho, including withdrawing of his five body guards and orders to surrender his gun, acts that he said amounted to persecution, intimidation and blackmail.
The move to threaten and intimidate Joho hit the rocks as it failed miserably and Jubilee are now working on a different script to wrap him in.
To begin with, the Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa has finally gone slow on Joho and the drama that Kenyans used to watch between Joho and Marwa is no longer on the stage. Sources say Marwa was advised to go slow on Joho and nowadays, he rarely locks horns with Joho.
President Uhuru is also said to have warned his allies to avoid any public spat with Joho. It is for this reason that even during Uhuru’s latest visit to the region; Joho played a key role and was never sidelined as had been the case in the previous visits. It has also been noticed that of late, when President Uhuru visits the region, his allies from the Jubilee side are never allowed to be near him but with Joho playing a key role.
President Uhuru’s gameplan seems to be yielding fruits. The last time Joho was seen in ODM function was during ODM’s tenth anniversary in Kisumu. Analysts say Joho’s political star within ODM has been rising steadily resulting in rumours that he was angling to be Raila’s running mate in 2017 should Raila chose to go it alone. But in a quick rejoinder, Joho put to rest speculation that he intends to be Raila’s running mate in next year’s presidential race.
Barely two weeks before the Kisumu rally, Joho had single handedly bankrolled ODM 10th anniversary celebrations in Mombasa to the tune of Sh50 million where he dared the Jubilee government about the money they constantly dish out saying: “If you come with an envelope, I want to tell you that I have my envelope.”
Sources say initial plans was to lure both Joho who is the deputy party leader in ODM and the former secretary general Ababu Namwamba to defect at the same time but sources say Ababu was in a hurry to leave ODM though his move has since backfired on him miserably.
The big question now is whether Joho will fall in the trap like Ababu and join other rebel ODM MPs who ditched ODM for Jubilee like Gideon Mung’aro of Kilifi North, Zainab Chidzuga, WR Kwale county, Mustafa Iddi, Kilifi South, Peter Shehe, Ganze, and Masoud Mwahima, Likoni. Uhuru in his recent tour to the region also managed to convince Kwale governor Salim Mvurya to decamp ODM and join Jubilee party.
But why is the government targeting Joho? Those who know him well say that he grew up in the Kaloleni area in Mvita constituency and was raised by a stepfather Mzee Khamis Mkilungi and shot to fame in the 2004 Kisauni parliamentary by-election, running on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket led by then Roads minister Raila to romp home with victory.
Joho and elder brother Abubakar Joho together run family businesses. From a small business venture, he expanded into the ranks of multi-millionaires in the coastal town. He entered the clearing and forwarding business and solid waste management through the Prima Bins and Pest Control Company Limited.
Joho has managed various enterprises in diverse sectors ranging from environmental management, shipping and logistics to manufacturing and retail. He is the founder and pioneer of Prima Pest and Bins Limited, the first garbage collection company in Mombasa. He is also the founder of M-Tech Kenya Limited and East African Terminals Limited, commanding respect within the shipping and logistics industry.