Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Friday, 08 Jul 2016 11:11 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The cabinet secretary for mining, Dan Kazungu, held a series of meetings last weekend to solidify support for the Jubilee Coalition in Kilifi County ahead of the 2017 elections. While cabinet secretaries are ethically and legally barred from partisan politics, the line that divides official and political duties is thin and ministers have increasingly devised ways to circumvent the boundaries.
A former ODM MP for Malindi who was 'poached' by President Uhuru Kenyatta and appointed to the cabinet last year, Kazungu has straddled the political and bureaucratic worlds from the start. He, for example, took part in the Jubilee campaigns for Philip Charo, the coalition's candidate in the by-election that followed his appointment to the cabinet.
His passion to continue playing politics was hammered home by a series of activities over the weekend that indicated not only his role in Jubilee's effort to penetrate the opposition stronghold of Coast but also his own ambition to rise the political ladder from cabinet secretary.
On Saturday, local Jubilee leaders held caucuses to prepare for the minister's arrival from Nairobi in anticipation that he would deliver an important message from the president. He, however, did not arrive until Sunday. His flight from Nairobi touched down at Malindi Airport to a heroic welcome by traditional dancers and leaders including local MPs.
The minister then went into a number of meetings with the leaders, who included MPs Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North) and Peter Shehe (Ganze), Ganda county representative Stephen Mulanda and Malindi deputy county commissioner Gideon Ombongi.
The meetings were closed to the media, but participants said the discussions revolved around Jubilee's plans to capture the Kilifi gubernatorial and local seats in the 2017 elections. Later, Kazungu led an Iftar dinner at Malindi Cleopatra Grounds where he asked Coastal people to support the government.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta loves Coast region. His Deputy Ruto has just recently toured Kilifi County and the entire Coast region at large,’’ he said. Kazungu told the congregants that his appointment, along with that of Najib Balala and other Coastal leaders, was evidence that Jubilee cared for the people of Coast region, and it was up to the people themselves to take advantage of the positions to uplift the region.
“For Coast region to be respected there must be unity first. We must be united for us to achieve whatever we want,’’ he said, explaining that such unity can only be achieved if coastal people were in one party that supports the government.
The iftar event was attended by all the leaders except Mungaro, but the MP’s supporters, who donned T-shirts with the message ‘Gideon Mung’aro, Kilifi County Governor 2017’, were present. Mung'aro's campaign for the Kilifi governorship is a top priority for Jubilee's plans to make inroads into the county, most of whose leaders support the CORD coalition.
Hon. Shehe said at the iftar party that Coastal leaders want the deputy presidential position in 2022 and that they had identified Kazungu as the one to represent Coast at the national high table. “It's time for us as Coast to strategize or else we shall not go anywhere,’’ he said, and urged all leaders to support Kazungu.
The meeting also carried strong anti-opposition messages. Shehe said that opposition leader Raila Odinga “would never be president of Kenya even if he contested for the next 50 years.”
To give the function an official bent, Kazungu also outlined the programmes that his ministry is currently implementing. He said the ministry had budgeted Sh3 billion to conduct research for the identification of mining potential throughout the country.
He also said that the new laws to govern the mining sector, which were passed by Parliament in April, will help coastal communities benefit from the natural resources in the region. He revealed that the ministry had formulated a set of 16 regulations which will soon be subjected to public participation before they are gazetted.
“For 76 years Kenya has undertaken largescale mining without any policies to guide the sector, but in April we passed new laws,’’ he said, and took credit for the legislation.