Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Tuesday, 28 Mar 2017 11:29 EATdmutua@kenyafreepress.com
Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho has become the man to watch in coastal and indeed national politics. Away from the two principals in the Jubilee and CORD coalitions, Mr Joho is the most talked about politician in Kenya today. From his clashes with President Uhuru Kenyatta to his relentless campaign for his party leader Raila Odinga's election to the now controversial allegations that he possesses fake academic certificates, the media has followed Mr Joho for months.
Slightly over two weeks ago, he was stopped by police from attending the Mtongwe ferry launch by President Kenyatta at Likoni, even though as the host governor it was expected that he would be present. President Kenyatta ordered Joho to be barred from attending the rally. General service Police Officers stopped Joho from accessing the town, working on the commands that they were given by their bosses.
The government has seemed to repress Joho since 2013, but the war against him have escalated in the past month. In a letter that surfaced in social media on Sunday, the Kenya National of Examination Council (KNEC) claimed that Governor Ali Hassan Joho’s certificate for Secondary education are “forged documents”. Joho has, however, not taken the challenges leveled against him lying down. He has dismissed the claims that his secondary certificates are fake, terming the claims as war by the Jubilee administration targeting him.
Just two days before the certificate fiasco, Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa warned the governor not to hold political rallies out of Mombasa County. The administrator accused Joho, who has been nicknamed 'Sultan' by his supporters, of allegedly trying to introduce a sultanate in coast region.
As if reading from a historical suppression of the indigenous Africans by white colonialists in the last century, Mr Marwa said the title of sultan brought bad memories in Kenyans who either witnessed or read about atrocities of slave trade that thrived under the region of sultans.
Earlier in the week, the government had frozen his bank accounts pending a Kenya Review Authority of his tax payments. This came weeks after the government withdrew Joho's security detail and had his guns taken. Then, Mr Marwa accused Governor Joho, his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi, and Aisha Juma unleashed violence in Malindi.
On January 13, the governor and two Mombasa MP’s were arrested under unclear circumstances, in which the police officers said they received orders from above to arrest them, denying them bail. The arrests were not justified, or could not be understood why they were arrested anyhow without issue of warrant of arrest. “The decision to arrest them and deny them bail is still a misery," said Governor Joho's lawyer Mohammed Balala.
This was seen as the culmination of a witchhunt that had seen Joho’s Portside and Auto port container freight stations closed in January on claims they were linked to smuggling of multimillion shillings goods. “It has been decided that nomination of containers to your CFS be suspended with immediate effect,” KPA Managing Director Gichiri Ndua said in the letter dated January 21, without giving any reason for the action. The government has also investigated the governor for drug dealing to no avail.
For most of 2016, Joho and Marwa wrangled over the management of Kongowea Market, which is currently under the Mombasa County government following the implementation of devolution. The two clashed when Marwa claimed that Joho (whom he did not name directly) was planning to take credit for the project yet it was funded by the national government. Joho had ordered the renovation of other market blocks and construction of cabro roads.
Three years ago, the government withdrew police officers off Mombasa streets in order to precipitate traffic gridlock. Within hours, the decision was reversed and county traffic marshals were ordered off the streets as armed officers took over. Mombasa experienced unprecedented traffic jams but the motorists read politics in the fiasco. “For some reason they felt they need to deny us the opportunity to respond to their falsehoods and lies,” Joho complained.
Such consistent fight against Joho by the complete range of government machinery has raised questions to citizens, whether it is political fight, following that Jubilee has been campaigning for Suleiman Shahbal as the next Mombasa Governor, come August elections. “This is a war that began in 2013. They started (it) through their bloggers and then the newspapers. But I tell you this is a futile attempt by the Jubilee government to discredit the governor,” said Joho in a statement that was released today by his Communication Director Richard Chacha.
The differences between Joho and the Jubilee government reflects the government's determination to reach the Coast vote, a path on which the governor is seen as a major stumbling block. The governor has rallied the opposition forces in the region to his side in support of Mr Odinga, hence Jubilee's opposition to him.