Eleven public rallies and five economic forums are in the offing from William Samoei Ruto (WSR) as he begins his four-day campaign encounter of the recent whirlwind engagement of Azimio flagbearer Raila Amolo Odinga (RAO).
A critical look at this counter mission bespeaks of a ‘radarless and clueless’ Coast region Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) battalion that only comes alive when its general comes calling to flog a dead horse.
Except for press conferences here and there, the battalion goes onsleep mode immediately its boss turns his back back home leaving the footsoldiers in pains of conducting its own rallies.
Sibling rivalry, intra-and-interpersonal wrangles and differences between KKA affiliate partners from county-to-county seems to be the Achilles Heel that WSR will have to deal with keep the ship floating till August before roping in other social and economic issues.
The recent public spat pitting Governor Amason Kingi against Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa cannot be wished away because it’s a festering wound the requires urgent attention.
Consolidating votes for KKA will not be a walk in the park without first putting out the ongoing ‘fires’ in each county occasioned by deep-rooted mistrust, suspicion and animosity.
How WSR intends to bring Kingi, Jumwa and Kilifi North MP Owen Baya to share the same podium will be an interesting stunt to watch when he visit the county.
At stake is Kilifian 682,631 vote basket as per latest registration figures that have traditionally been an easy pick for Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) from the previous post-2010 Constitution’s general election of 2013 and 2017 were a fierce battle for control of numbers.
In 2013 elections, the Cord presidential candidate pair Odinga/Musyoka scooped 612,057 against Uhuruto’s 158,083 from the six counties before cementing its authority over Uhuruto with a 801,031 catch against 287,606 votes in the 2017 polls.
With August 9th beckoning, the region’s 2,053,528 loot will require WSR to work his teeth and feet extremely hard to offset the ODM/Azimio dominance in the diversed counties.
While joining the KKA faction after decamping from Azimio, Kingi ballooned two issues that he wished should be taken care of by Ruto’s administration if he ascends to power in August.
The land question topped his agenda followed by the port question which were the basis of bitter exchange between him and his Malindi antagonist.
This supremacy battles between Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) and Uinted Democratic Alliance (UDA) are not good for consolidating votes for KKA presidential candidate.
But for WSR to categorically deal with the Coast land question he must first call for an inventory of who owns the beachplots within the Ten-Mile Strip and how they got them from Vanga in Kwale to Kiunga in Lamu County.
After this is done, the KKA candidate should turn to the hinterlands of the region to register all parcels of land and their owners in another inventory before making them public for the Coasterians.
Just promising 100 days of presidency to resolve the issue is attainable bearing in mind he could only be hoidwinking the voters to satisfy Article 138 (4) (b) of the Constitution than dealing with the emotive problem that did not start yesterday!
The region has a long history that dates back to 6th-14th centuries when it started receiving visitors from foreign lands of Chinese, Persians, Jordians and Indians before falling under the hands of Portuguese (15-16 centuries) and Arabs (17-18 centuries).
Then, came the British/Europeans in the 18-19 centuries before the flocking of the upcountry people in the 20th century to date. But a question arises: can one resolve a pre-colonial and middle ages’ land issues in 100 days?
For instance, before independence, the whole of the Coastal strip was under the rule of the Sultanate of Zanzibar and immediately after 1963 independence the government made an agreement with the Sultan to return the strip to Kenya.
By then, only the Arab inhabitants had the title deeds while the Mijikenda communities lived on the land without any documents.
So, how did some influential upcountry people acquire those beachplots instead of the local occupants and how did they get the title deeds from the Arab?
Let’s wait and see how WSR intends to navigate this treacherous land question that has seen government-after-government since independence promise to resolve the emotive problem without success.
Even with Jubilee administration (2013-2017) issuance of title deeds to the region, the land question has remained emotive in all the six counties with the locals accusing their own leadership of being an impingement to the same.