What began as a motion to impeach Transport cabinet secretary James Macharia by Nyali MP Mohammed Ali on allegations of corruption and mismanagement has turned out into a hot political battle in Mombasa politics. Even though the impeachment motion has not been tabled in parliament after speaker Justin Muturi rejected it on grounds the MP did not present enough evidence, the issue has unexpectedly snowballed into a monster that has put Governor Hassan Joho and his allies in a tight corner. After Muturi rejected the motion, the Nyali legislator popularly known as Jicho Pevu addressed a press conference at which he tabled documents among them one showing the Joho family was a beneficiary of multibillion deals dished out by CS Macharia’s transport ministry.
This according to the MP is part of the reason why the Mombasa governor had gone silent on the issue of shifting Mombasa port business operations to Naivasha that has created serious negative repercussions on the Mombasa economy. The tabled documents show that Joho-owned Portside Terminals has been illegally allocated exclusive rights to manage berths number 7 and 8 at the port of Mombasa without parliamentary approval or even going through public participation. The approval and signing was done a month ago. The move to give away the two berths will see thousands of Kenya Ports Authority employees declared redundant, according to Dock Workers Uunion.
Apart from the Johos, the chairman of the Parliament Investment Committee Abdulswamad Nassir also the Mvita MP, has been awarded a multimillion tender by Kenya Ports Authority to supply manual labour, a move that also works against the interest of permanent KPA employees. As such, the governor, Mvita MP and their benefactors’ mouths are literally sealed and cannot speak out openly on the injustice being committed against the people of Mombasa through unjustified policies being implemented by the transport ministry, the Nyali MP pointed out. A series of public protests have reportedly been lined up to name and shame the ‘enemies of Mombasa’ even as the Nyali MP tries to rework his motion against Macharia.In the meantime, the Mombasa governor and his political allies are feeling the heat from social media users who have turned against them.
And the Nyali MP’s bold move to challenge the powers that be on behalf of the economically oppressed port city residents has raised his political profile and is now the perfect opposition for the Joho administration. Indeed, already he is being proposed for Mombasa governor seat, something that is unsettling for Suleiman Shahbal and other aspirants. Shahbal has aligned himself with Joho and no longer criticises his excesses, meaning voters will associate him with the governor’s baggage during the campaign period. In his press conference last week, Ali was accompanied by former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, a political foe of Joho and currently a legal adviser at DP William Ruto’s office. Analysts say if Jicho Pevu popularity continues to accelerate up to 2022 general elections, he could pull a surprise.
Recently, the MP said he is not eyeing the Mombasa governor’s seat but cleverly added that when that time comes, he will give direction. Other than Shahbal, Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo will be disadvantaged if Jicho Pevu enters the Mombasa governor race. Mbogo, a Mijikenda has not managed to raise his political profile to attract serious following even from among his community members. Sources say, the Kisauni legislator has been angling for Joho’s endorsement as his preferred successor. However, this was not forthcoming and instead, Shahbal seems to be the Mombasa governor’s favoured one if events of the recent past is anything to go by. At the same time, Mbogo’s stiff opposition to Jicho Pevu’s impeachment motion perceived as geared to rescue Mombasa economy has damaged his standing and portrayed him as a compromised leader.