Jubilee Party leaders are working hard to dislodge ODM from political supremacy in the Coast region in 2022.
The campaign to reverse ODM wave, which has been in place since 2007, is led by Deputy President William Ruto who frequents the region with a basket of goodies. Ruto has pulled to his side a section of Coast leaders to ensure Coast politics is wrestled from ODM party dominance.
NO IMPACT YET
In his frequent visits, Ruto has tried to entice Coast voters to abandon ODM and vote JP in 2022. A similar campaign was carried in 2017 but its effect was felt less.
Despite Jubilee’s strong appeal to Coast communities to abandon ODM, the impact is yet to be felt. There are several explanations for this. One, voter apathy toward JP still persists. The party is perceived to be the extension of the forces that have continued to marginalize coastal communities, in particular, on land issues.
To be sincere, the Jubilee Government has given thousands of title deeds to deserving squatters and those in settlement schemes; but the effect has been minimal. Many of the people who reside outside of urban areas and in settlement schemes, have felt left out by the Government program to dish out title deeds.
JP is also being accused of being anti-devolution in a region whose people have equated ‘ugatuzi’ with ‘majimbo.’ So strong is the principle of devolution that anything less would be unacceptable to the majority of the voters. It is the issue of majimbo that ODM has exploited to seek support of Coast people and they have succeeded. This means that Jubilee party leaders have a lot of explanation to do to convince voters that JP is also for devolution.
Corruption allegations against the JP Government have given JP a bad name.
In the Coast region, JP has not yet been localized. The party is not in the hands of local people. It is largely fronted from the outside. Contrast this with ODM, which is not only fronted by local politicians, but they also own it. Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart, Amason Kingi are “the home boys” of the party. This is why the two did not need support from Raila Odinga to win the 2017 election.
If JP leaders are to challenge ODM dominance here, they need to localize the party. Even though Jubilee picked Mung’aro, Mvurya and Shaabal to be the home boys, the strings are still pulled from Nairobi. In fact, much of what we hear about the Jubilee Party is when leaders like Ruto visit this region; as soon as they depart, JP politics goes to bed.
It is a fact that ODM has lost part of the political luster the party enjoyed in the 2007, 2013 and 2017 elections. New political dynamics have cropped up, including persistent criticism against party nominations and the push to propel a homegrown party like Kadu-Asili. Nevertheless ODM is still the party to watch. It still holds sway among many of the voters. If Jublee is to dislodge ODM in the Coast region, its leaders—especially local leaders—will have to do more than political proclamations from public rallies.