Monday, July 14, 2008


Hon. Hassan Ali Joho, MP (ODM)

Kisauni constituency has been a hard nut to crack for many politicians. It has created "little kings" since the times of the flamboyant MP Abdallah Mwarua (1969-1974), who used to ride around town on a horse.Karisa Maitha, who died barely a year after he was sworn in 2003, was equally flamboyant.The current Kisauni MP, Mr Hassan Ali Joho, is the youngest legislator to represent the constituency.Joho, 35, was born in Mombasa but his background remains shadowy .

The father of two hopes to make a mark during his tenure. Before he contested for the seat in the by-election occasioned by Maitha’s death, was virtually unknown.Only a few people knew him as a wealthy businessman whose exploits started long before he attended High Grade College in Mombasa for his business studies.He regards himself as someone who understands his constituency well. He went to Tom Mboya Primary School and later to Serani High School. He also attended Comprite College for computer studies. The MP says he has always been interested in politics but did not want to compete with Maitha. "I saw Maitha as a capable leader. As a development conscious person, I saw no need to rush. I therefore gave him a chance.I didn’t want to get into politics just for the sake of opposing someone," he says.

When Maitha died, Joho says there was a political vacuum. "After thorough consultations I decided to contest."Joho immediately began being associated with fabulous wealth. During his campaigns, he was often in a convoy of more than ten expensive cars. He was also associated with a luxurious yacht that anchored at the Tudor Sports Club.But despite the show of wealth, lawyer Ananiah Mwaboza defeated him in the by-election.He says Mwaboza defeated him because he had support from the Government. Joho unsuccessfully disputed the election outcome in court.

However, he promised Mwaboza a run for his money the next time they met at the ballot.Last year’s election was a fierce contest between the two. As promised three years earlier, Joho, who vied on ODM ticket, trounced Mwaboza.Many Coast residents know Joho as a successful and wealthy young man. The MP is hesitant to talk about his status. "I am involved in several family businesses," he told The Sunday Standard. Before joining politics his elder brother, Mr Abu Joho, was well known in town. Some people believe it is Abu who encouraged his younger brother to join politics.Abu is businessman who imports and exports various goods. He is also said to own a garbage collection company, among other enterprises.

Before last year’s General Election, Joho was sometimes seen with Ms Mary Wambui at fundraising functions despite having been associated with Mr Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement. Speculations were rife that he might have been involved in some business with Wambui, who was then referred to as a Narc activist.Immediately he became MP, Joho was at loggerheads with Mvita MP and Pentagon member Mr Najib Balala.The Kisauni MP was close to Maitha, who had worked tirelessly to ensure the ouster of Balala as mayor of Mombasa in 1998. Maitha had supported Taib Ali Taib, who later became mayor after the 2002 General Election.This time Joho ensured Mr Ahmed Muhdhar trounced Balala’s nephew, Mr Tawfiq Balala, in Mombasa mayoral elections. But after winning the battle at the council he still has to contend with problems facing his constituents.Having been elected on the ODM platform of change, Joho is expected to initiate his own projects too.The first headache will be the perennial squatter problem affecting his constituents.

About two-thirds of the more than 500,000 of the constituents are squatters.Insecurity, drug peddling and use and a high rate of unemployment are rampant. The constituency lacks a proper drainage system. There is also lack of piped water and proper lighting system except for posh areas in Nyali. Due to the rapid expansion and lack of proper coordination from the Mombasa Municipal Council, there is congestion due to haphazard erection of structures. Many places are prone to flooding.How does Joho promise to handle such problems? "Squatter problem is part of the historical injustices," he says.Joho says the solution would be to settle the squatters on unoccupied Government or "compulsory" acquisition of some parcels of land whose owners are no longer in Kenya or are unidentified .

Joho feels that by lighting up the area, thuggery incidents would be reduced. He said he intends to liaise with the Mombasa Municipal Council to realise the project.The Government, he says, should also build more police stations in his constituency. There are only two police stations – Nyali and Bamburi. To address unemployment and poverty, Joho feels that the constituents should benefit from the tourism industry and the Bamburi Cement Factory. There are many beach hotels and Joho says they should give employment priority to the local people.Beach hotels should leave businesses like curio and other small industries to the locals instead of incorporating them into their core-business, he says. He wants beach operators to operate without harassment from the hotels or the police. He has warned hotels that block locals from accessing the beach that he would organise demonstrations against them. And apart from bed levy that the hotels give to the Mombasa Municipal Council, Joho plans to ensure the establishments also contribute to a trust fund that would directly benefit the people. He says local fishermen should access fish landing sites since the beach is common property for all Kenyans.

Immediate former MP: Hon. Ananiah Mwaboza, Assistant Minister, (Ministry of State for Immigration & Registration of Persons)

Story by: Athman Amran



Kisauni and Likoni
Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Always a political hotbed, Mombasa is set to become even more volatile this year. Consider the developments of the past week or so, which offer a vivid glimpse of what lies in store.In the space of a week, we have seen the awesome power play that ended with the replacement of Mayor Masoud Mwahima at Town Hall – a move unabashedly orchestrated by Mombasa Kanu boss Shariff Nassir.

But Mr Mwahima proved no easy quarry. After a series of run-ins with the law, he defiantly confirmed that he would run for the Likoni parliamentary seat on a Ford People ticket – fuelling the anger of Mr Nassir, who then resorted to warning Ford People presidential candidate Simeon Nyachae against visiting Mombasa.

The stage has been set for a duel of the giants. To start with, there has always been the misconception that Mombasa District, the epicentre of politics in Coast Province, is a Kanu zone.Facts on the ground present a different picture. With the first multi-party election of 1992, Kanu won only the Mvita seat, where Mr Nassir barely managed to scrape through. Likoni and Kisauni were won by Ford Kenya through Mr Khalif Mwavumo and Prof Rashid Mzee, widely believed to be a representative of the unregistered Islamic Party of Kenya. Changamwe went to the Democratic Party's Kennedy Kiliku.

In 1997, Kanu managed to recover Changamwe through Mr Ramadhan Kajembe, but the Opposition retained Kisauni and Likoni through Mr Emmanuel Karissa Maitha of the DP and Mr Rashid Shakombo of the Shirikisho Party. All the indications are that Kanu will have an uphill task trying to regain a foothold in Kisauni and Likoni, while Mr Nassir's long reign in Mvita is facing a tacit challenge within Kanu from popular former Mombasa Mayor Najib Balala.

Though Mr Balala insists that he will be going for the Kanu ticket, that might be difficult given Mr Nassir's tight grip on the local party machinery. If unfairly denied the Kanu nomination, Mr Balala would be eagerly snapped up by either Mr Mwai Kibaki's DP or Mr Nyachae's Ford People, both of which are having their own quiet sideshow in the struggle to challenge Kanu's dominance of Coast politics.
Mr Nyachae has made recent forays into Mombasa and further south into Kwale District, and may have earned incalculable mileage with the ongoing saga over the arrest and subsequent removal of Mr Mwahima as mayor of Mombasa.

Declarations by Mr Nassir that he had "banned" Mr Nyachae from Mombasa only served to depict a Kanu and government machinery panicking over the inroads he might be making.Confirmation that Mr Mwahima would be contesting the Likoni seat on the Ford People ticket seems to have been the main catalyst for his arrest on charges of issuing a bad cheque, which was followed by his removal as mayor on the strength of a decree by Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. Likoni has been in Opposition hands since 1992, and Kanu's hopes of capturing the seat seem to hinge on wooing Mr Shakombo, who has always responded in a lukewarm manner to overtures from the ruling party. The trouble is that Mr Shakombo may be the sole Shirikisho MP but may not necessarily be in a position to move the party into a merger or alliance with Kanu.

Besides, Kanu has its own well-grounded operatives in Likoni, who would be loath to see the ticket handed to a "stranger". Kanu's great hope in Likoni would seem to be Mr Hisham Mwidau, son of Mr Abdallah Ndovu Mwidau – the popular and pragmatic leader, whose name still evokes the reverence that the young Mwidau is keen to exploit. Mr Mwidau missed the Likoni seat last election by a mere 300 votes.
He still believes he would have bagged the seat if his half-brother, former MP Abdulkadir Mwidau, had not also vied for the seat on the Ford Kenya ticket. Abdulkadir was elected as a replacement for his father but lost the seat in 1992. Mr Mwahima's candidacy confuses issues for the Mwidaus and Mr Shakombo. If Kanu settles for Mr Shakombo, the Opposition will no doubt get rich pickings from the fall-out – and this is why the Mwahima factor has become extremely tricky for Kanu.

In Kisauni, Mr Maitha is exuding confidence. There is no question that he is a populist politician seen by the Miji Kenda as their most solid bulwark against perceived domination by the wealthy business and political classes of Arab origin.Mr Mwahima has sent out signals that he will also seek to capitalise on the race card. He is blaming his removal as mayor to politicians with Arab roots keen to consolidate their hold on Mombasa politics.

In Mvita, the big question is whether Mr Balala can send veteran Nassir into a well-deserved retirement or whether the wily politician will retain his grassroots magic.Mr Nassir is playing his cards close to his chest, but there has been talk that he may be contemplating retirement to pave the way for Mr Abdul Swamad (also known as Boss) in Mvita.Mr Balala has moved to the ground in Majengo, using women's groups and youths in what is seen as the greatest challenge to Mr Nassir since 1992, when the Islamic Party of Kenya almost unseated him.

Changamwe constituency is a mixed bag, with the Kamba vote dominant, but facing a threat now from the Kanu-NDP merger, which throws a solid Luo vote in favour of the ruling party.The Kamba dominated the constituency almost since independence until 1997, when Mr Kiliku lost to Kanu's Ramadhan Kajembe.
Mr Kiliku subsequently crossed over to the Labour Party of Kenya, but proved last year that he was still a force to reckon with when he was elected secretary-general of the powerful Dockworkers Union, despite spirited government attempts to lock him out.What is causing even more shock waves now is that he has publicly declared his enrolment in Mr Nyachae's People's Coalition.

It is for reasons such as these that Kanu sees Mr Nyachae as a real threat. If indeed he is, the casualties would not only be Kanu but also the DP and the National Alliance for Change, in which it is grouped with Ford Kenya and the National Party of Kenya. For Kanu, the ideal scenario might be a fight in Mombasa between Mr Nyachae and the Alliance, leaving the ruling party to scrape through on a split Opposition vote.
Meanwhile, a number of other factors will come into play. One is the activities of a band of extremely wealthy Coastal businessmen, mostly of Arab or Asian origin, to whom nearly every Mombasa politician, particularly in Kanu, is indebted. Mr Nassir has long endured a kind of love-hate relationship with the businessmen, who also have their own internal turf wars, but of late the majority of them seem to be rallying round him.
They will certainly support Kanu, and figures such as nominated MP Rashid Sajjad, his estranged business partner M.S. Bawazir and Lamu-based Twahir Sheikh Said (TSS) will ensure that favoured Kanu candidates have overflowing campaign chests.Another important factor is the home-grown opposition, which expresses itself either through radical activism, Islamic extremism, or both.

In 1992, the unregistered Islamic Party of Kenya caused shock waves in Mombasa politics. It secured the Kisauni seat and nearly routed Mr Nassir in Mvita with its candidates running on Ford Kenya tickets. Then there was Sheikh Khalid Balala, an eloquent and charismatic street preacher, whose fierce tirades against the government found ready audience in Mombasa and elsewhere.

The IPK is all but gone, but not the spirit, as radical clerics continue to take their anti-establishment messages across the Island. Groups such as Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), the Council of Imams and Preachers, the Mombasa branch of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims and the Friends of Al Aqsar continue to play a potent role in Mombasa politics.The problem is that they have no single political vehicle on which to deliver their agenda. Some of the more prominent activists have been associated with the defunct Muungano wa Mageuzi movement, but are now leaning towards Mr Nyachae's People's Coalition.Yet another lot is consorting with the rival National Alliance for Change.



Tuesday, May 7, 2002

In Kisauni, the battle will present a test for the recent NDP/Kanu merger and Opposition National Alliance for Change with Kanu's Said Hemed taking on DP's Emmanuel Karisa Maitha. Although there will be close to six contestants, the situation is not expected to change much from the 1997 General Election as the long standing rivalry between the two front-runners – Mr Hemed and Mr Maitha – is once again set to dominate the stage.
It was a bitter pill for Kanu when Mr Maitha, who had just defected to the Democratic Party after the ruling party nominated Mr Hemed, emerged the victor, polling 10,074 votes against his rival's 9,540. A lengthy legal battle – lasting almost three years – ensued over the poll results after Mr Hemed filed a petition against Mr Maitha's election. The court ordered a re-count of the votes and Mr Maitha again emerged the winner with a 50-vote margin over Mr Hemed.

Even after losing the petition, Mr Hemed has continued to make his presence felt in the constituency, especially in his Old Town backyard where he has held several fund-raising meetings for education and health schemes. He is a rich man. Apart from his own vast resources, he enjoys the support of Mombasa Kanu tycoons who would be willing to fund his campaigns.

Solving land problems

Mr Maitha has used his first term in Parliament trying to solve the many problems facing his constituents, especially those related to land. This has endeared him to the locals, especially members of his Miji Kenda community. If the Miji Kenda vote for him as a block, and if he benefits from the Opposition alliance votes, he will almost certainly earn another term in the august House to represent the constituency with more than 76,500 registered voters.But Mr Hemed could turn tables against Mr Maitha if he takes advantage of the stronger Kanu following its merger with the National Development Party last March.
Prof Rashid Mzee, who won the Kisauni seat in 1992 on a Ford Kenya ticket – thanks to the Opposition euphoria which swept the country at the dawn of multi-partyism – has maintained a low profile since losing the seat in 1997.

Then, Prof Mzee received 7,526 votes on an NDP ticket.He is unlikely to make an impact this time, having been out of the public limelight. Prof Mzee also seems to have lost interest in the NDP after 1997. He has not identified himself with any other party since.

Former NDP votes

If Mr Hemed could translate Prof Mzee's 7,500 NDP votes into his own, following the defunct party's merger with Kanu, then he could romp home this time round.In the last elections, Mr Hemed fared poorly in the sprawling slums of Kongowea and Kisauni whose voters made all the difference after he won most votes in the Arab and Swahili-dominated Old Town. Mr Maitha bagged almost everything in his home ground – Mwakirunge, Utange and Shimo la Tewa. The Kongowea and Kisauni votes will once again play a big part in determining the eventual winner and Mr Hemed will be hoping to improve on his performance by wooing former NDP supporters to vote for him in the spirit of the new Kanu.

Mr Maitha has, however, expressed confidence that the Opposition votes will go his way, especially because he is the DP torch bearer at the Coast. The scenario presents a tough challenge for campaign managers of the two camps as it will be a battle pitting the new Kanu against the Opposition alliance. Mr Maitha's confidence could be justified given that no major Opposition party has expressed interest in presenting a serious candidate in Kisauni.

He is also praying that the Cabinet Minister Shariff Nassir versus former Mayor Najib Balala duel in neighbouring Mvita could spill over to Kisauni at the expense of Mr Hemed.In the ensuing scenario, some former voters in Kisauni's Old Town could shift alliances and support Mr Balala in Mvita.
Mr Maitha says his record since he became Kisauni MP speaks for itself, adding that this gives him a lot of confidence as the elections approach. "In fact, I will beat my opponents by an even bigger margin this time," he said confidently. The MP credits himself with having spearheaded the resettlement of squatters in seven schemes in Kisauni, including 1,500 in Mkomani, 2,100 in Mwembe Legeza and 3,100 recently resettled in Shanzu.

Other resettlement projects he says he has initiated are in Majaoni, Mwakirunge and Mtopanga.Mr Maitha also says he has started road rehabilitation schemes, leading to the re-construction of the Old Malindi, Mishomoroni, Mwakirunge and Bamburi roads. In education, Mr Maitha has begun a bursary fund for the constituency and planned a new girls' secondary school in Mbaraki.On health, doctors' living quarters have been built at Kongowea, Mwakirunge, Utange and Shimo la Tewa clinics.

Among the newcomers trying their hand are youthful Hassan Omar, 26, a former Moi University student leader who wants to vie on the ticket of MP Simeon Nyachae's Ford People, and little known Mr Charo wa Yaa, an engineer, who claims to have the backing of Kaya elders.Mr Yaa's name first caught public attention when police alleged he was the man behind a gang of attackers who were terrorising residents of Bombolulu.
Although the police arrested four members of the gang, no one was prosecuted for the mayhem and Mr Yaa was later cleared after questioning.

Miji Kenda rights

He has since said he advocates the rights of the Miji Kenda community in a peaceful way, adding that this has endeared him to Kaya elders who have reportedly proposed him as their candidate in Kisauni. Mr Yaa says an organisation known as the Pwani Community Development consulted the people, including Kaya elders from the 12 Miji Kenda tribes, before they took the decision. He alleges that Mr Maitha, the local MP, has failed to "articulate the interests of the coastal community".

But Mr Maitha dismisses Mr Yaa as a "person who has been planted by Kanu" to discredit him, saying his rival had no chance of "going beyond the nomination of any popular party".Ironically, Mr Yaa has said he would seek Kanu nomination against Mr Hemed and if he failed, he would then support the party's candidate. He says Kaya elders supported the majimbo system of government although he does not want to vie on a Federal Party of Kenya ticket due to what he terms "my love for Kanu". "If I do not get the Kanu nomination, then I will not stand. I would rather support the popular Kanu candidate," he says.However, it is quite unlikely that Kanu could by-pass Mr Hemed in Kisauni for any other candidate. If Mr Yaa insists on Kanu, then he will be a non-starter come election time.

University expulsion

Mr Omar, who was expelled from Moi University's Law Faculty in his fourth year in 1998, has identified himself with various pressure groups, including the moribund Muungano wa Mageuzi where he was one of the co-ordinators. He has also been involved in human rights' issues and now feels that time is ripe for him to venture into "big time politics".One of the main problems he may face is lack of funds to effectively campaign in the vast constituency. Although he admits that money could be a problem, Mr Omar is banking on "voters' understanding", saying they have received him favourably during his tour of the constituency. "Our opponents may depend of their financial might, but I will rely on the determination of our people to change the quality of leadership," he said.Mr Omar believes that he has a good chance of winning the seat, saying he has mobilised the youth and other groups at the grassroots level.

Mr Abubakar Awadh vied for the seat on a Ford Kenya ticket in the 1997 General Election and managed 2,035 votes. He has said he will contest again this year. Mr Awadh says he will come up with a new strategy to ensure that he gives the front-runners a run for their money."I have done better groundwork this time and my strategy will revolve around this," he said.In 1997, Ms Rahab Mwendwa, vied on a Social Democratic Party ticket and received 2,832, while Mr T. Mwaingia, who stood on a Shirikisho Party of Kenya ticket, received 481 votes only. The latter two are unlikely to enter the fray come the next General Election.

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