In a surprise turn of events, Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal has silently retreated from pursuing an ODM party endorsement in his ambitions of becoming the next Mombasa governor. Weekly Citizen has information that the abrupt about-turn by Shahbal has been occasioned by intense infighting among Governor Hassan Joho’s allies who from the word go, did not approve of his intrusion into the party.
Shahbal was the face of the Jubilee party and its governor candidate in Mombasa county during the last general election. Among those said to have vowed to sabotage Shahbal’s ODM anointment as the governor candidate in 2022 include local branch chairman, Mohammed Hatimy, and governor’s elder brother Abubakar Joho. They frequently dismissed him as a Major Idriss project. Idriss, a retired military man is a political adviser of Joho. Shahbal who is chairman of Kenya Trade Network Agency had won the support of ODM leader Raila Odinga with whom he had been photographed several times. Two months ago, the ODM leader reportedly sent Shahbal to donate relief food to Mombasa residents on his behalf.
Other sources, however, claim the consignment was bought by Shahbal himself but wanted political mileage by associating it with Raila. Governor Joho, too, has held several events together with Shahbal in the port city in the recent past. The coming together by the former political protagonists had caused speculation that a political deal had been hatched and sealed. But Shahbal now seems to suggest there was no deal after all. He has informed his political associates that he has been forced to make a detour and return to Wiper in order to guarantee his being on the ballot box in the 2022 elections. According to reports, Shahbal’s efforts to gain acceptance among ODM officials and members in Mombasa have been unsuccessful. He was being viewed as an intruder.
It has also emerged that the owners of ODM in Mombasa are grooming Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir as the next port city governor with Mishi Mboko as his running mate. The choice of the Likoni MP as DG is to appeal to the Mijikenda vote. The arrangement is reportedly to ensure those running the show after Joho are insiders who will protect their interests, and cover-up scandals taking place in the current administration, it has been pointed out. Shahbal contested on a Wiper party ticket in the 2013 general election and Jubilee ticket in 2017. He lost both elections and complained that his victory was stolen. Last week, local Wiper party officials confirmed that Shahbal has approached them about his new move. “Yes, it is true Shahbal has met us and explained himself and said he had also met with our party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
We have accepted him back,” said a Wiper activist who requested to remain anonymous as the issue was still in the formative stages. Shahbal’s move comes at a time when former Mombasa senator Hassan Omar is rebranding and positioning himself to contest the Mombasa governor’s seat again on a yet to be revealed new political party ticket. Initially, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali was also eyeing the governor seat but sources say he has been instructed by William Ruto to back Omar. Ali is in a group of Coast legislators who recently announced that they will form a local political party and contest on its ticket to fight ODM dominance in the region. A diaspora group led by one Dr. Majid is backing the Jicho Pevu group in various ways. Majid aka Amken has also been releasing a series of weekly broadcasts through a YouTube channel exposing Joho’s alleged leadership failures and other malpractices.
It is not clear the direction Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo will take now that Shahbal has occupied Wiper’s position. Mbogo, a Wiper MP had gone to Joho hoping to be anointed his preferred successor. The Kisauni MP recently attacked Joho for remaining silent over the controversy surrounding revenue sharing formula at the senate, a signal that he may have given up on the governor. Former Nyali MP, Hezron Awiti, recently said he will be in the governor’s race, declaring that it will be a mother of all battles. He is expected to go for the seat for the second time on his Vibrant Democratic Party ticket.
Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi, who initially expressed interest in contesting for Mombasa governor’s seat has reportedly chickened out and will be defending his seat against onslaughts by opponents including Joshua Kiminza, a pastor who is already causing ripples in the constituency. In Mvita constituency, Joho is grooming his sidekick-cum-PA, Mohammed Machele. In Jomvu constituency, a battle royale is expected between the incumbent Badi Twalib, and his brother in law, Mohammed Kajembe. It is not clear if Tourism CS Najib Balala will contest for any political seat in the port city. There have been speculations in the past that he was eyeing the governor’s seat.