President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto issue title deeds to residents at Witu in Lamu County. [Photo: File,Standard]
Historical land injustices and alleged extra-judicial killings have dominated campaigns at the Coast as Jubilee and the National Super Alliance (NASA) scramble for the region’s 1.9 million votes.
The rival coalitions are trying to portray the other as a reluctant reformist in the area.
While NASA has portrayed Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto as incapable of initiating comprehensive reforms to dismantle centuries of local marginalisation, Jubilee has countered that Raila’s group did nothing when his side of the Grand Coalition held the lands docket.
Jubilee additionally claims that during the Grand Coalition, thousands of acres of land were illegally allocated to undeserving people in Lamu County and points to the thousands of title deeds issued by the ruling regime in Coast since 2013 as proof of its commitment to address land issues.
NASA argues that Jubilee has resorted to “piecemeal” reforms to avoid implementing the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report which diagnoses the historical development of the coastal land problem and prescribes short, mid and long-term strategies to address it.
In his tour at the Coast, NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga says they are targeting 90 per cent of the votes in the August 8 elections but Jubilee campaign team remains confident of improving Uhuru’s standing.
In the March 2013 polls, Coast was considered Opposition stronghold and Raila garnered 707,541 votes against President Uhuru’s 160,083. Last week, Raila ignited the debate on the extra-judicial killings saying hundreds of local youth and Muslim leaders have been killed during Jubilee four-year rule.
He accused President Uhuru’s regime of treating Muslims and ethnic Somalis as second class citizens and called on the community to reject Jubilee.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho repeated the claims and added that Muslims should not be victimised for resistance to oppression. Joho who has fought many battles with Uhuru declared that Muslims have an obligation to resist oppressors.
“Many Muslims youths and sheikhs have been killed or disappeared under his rule too,” said Joho as Raila added that if elected his government will address the land problem in a manner Jubilee is incapable of and also restitute victims of past injustices including extra judicial killings.
“Many sheikhs and Muslim youths have been killed in the last four years. Jubilee has failed to protect property and life which the primary responsibility of any government,” said Raila.
Joho said during President Uhuru’s tenure, police invaded mosques and killed Muslims citing the February 2, 2014 police raided Musa Mosque.
Police stormed Musa Mosque to stop a banned convention and six people and a policeman were killed in the confrontation between law enforcers and the youths. Some of the prisoners captured in the raid by police like Hemed Salim Hemed remain missing. Musa gained notoriety given most militant preachers like the late Sheikh Aboud Rogo, Sheikh Ibrahim Amur and activist Sheikh Abubakar Sharif alias Makaburi either preached or worshiped in the mosque. But Jubilee’s Mombasa gubernatorial candidate, Mr Suleiman Shahbal accuses NASA of stoking religious tension and termed the Opposition as insincere in raising the issues in the campaigns.
“I abhor extra-judicial killings but what the Opposition is doing is to whip religious emotions. It shows that they lack agenda for the coast,” Shahbal told Saturday Standard on phone.
He added: “All they have (NASA) is propaganda about land. More titles deeds have been issued under the four years of Jubilee government than since independence”.
He believes Jubilee has an upper hand in the vote hunt in Coast after fulfilling its campaign pledges.
DP Ruto has visited more frequently to launch projects, campaign and to receive defectors.
The President and his deputy’s visits have mainly concentrated on Mombasa, Taita Taveta, Kilifi and Kwale counties where the two have also issued title deeds in a bid to woo voters. CORD won five out of the six counties at the Coast save for Lamu where Governor Issa Timamy was elected on a UDF ticket and Senator Abu Chiaba of The National Alliance (TNA).
CORD’s presidential candidate garnered 52 percent of the total votes cast which translates to 22, 962 votes compared to Uhuru’s 17, 677 votes in Lamu in the 2013 polls according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) figures
In Mombasa, all Members of Parliament of the six constituencies were elected under the CORD coalition while all 34 Members of County Assembly (MCA) were elected on an ODM ticket.
In Mombasa, ODM leaderRaila garnered 187, 983 votes representing 70 percent of the total votes cast against Uhuru’s 64, 793, according to IEBC.
In Kilifi, save for four, all the other 50 MCAs were elected on ODM but Uhuru’s TNA won one parliamentary seat of Magharini through Harrison Mwalimu Kombe.
In the 2013 polls, 182, 768 voters or 84 percent voted for Raila Odinga while 23, 386 backed President Uhuru Kenyatta which represent a paltry 10.3 percent of the total votes cast.
But Jubilee’s forays in Kilifi appear to have borne fruits after three Opposition MPs defected to Jubilee following a sustained charm offensive by the President and his deputy.
In Kwale, Governor Salim Mvurya and three (ODM) MPs also decamped to Jubilee and will be defending their seats on the ruling party.
Raila garnered 101, 407 votes in Kwale which is 80 percent and Uhuru got 17, 633 votes in the March 2013 polls.
In Taita Taveta, ODM swept all MP seats, save for Taveta which was won by TNA’s Dr Naomi Shaban. Senator Dan Mwazo and Women Rep Joyce Lay have yielded to Jubilee’s seduction.
Raila garnered 75, 329 votes compared to Uhuru’s 12, 175 votes or 13 percent of total votes cast in the county.
Political analyst and lawyer Abubakar Yusuf has argued that Jubilee has penetrated the Coast. “All factors indicate that Jubilee would do better in this year’s election compared to the last election,” he said.
In the recent weeks, Jubilee has dispatched several cabinet secretaries to market its land reforms and has promised to issue 400,000 title deeds starting next month.
President Uhuru said in his last month tour that his administration is on course to process three million title deeds by end year from the 2.5 produced since 2013.
He also said that the title deeds issued were genuine and accused the Opposition of inventing propaganda against his land reforms.