Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho returns to his county on Sunday from the US to a storm kicked up by the defection of his ally Chirau Ali Mwakwere from ODM to Wiper party, complicating the Opposition’s bid to forge a united front at the Coast ahead of the August vote.
It is Mr Joho, ODM’s deputy party leader, who wooed the former Cabinet minister from his ambassadorial job in Dar-es-Salaam into the Raila Odinga party in January.
Mr Joho had hoped Mr Mwakwere would use the ODM ticket to run for the Kwale governor’s seat against Jubilee Party’s Salim Mvurya.
However, the former minister – who was welcomed to Wiper by party leader Kalonzo Musyoka on Thursday – declared that he had never been in ODM.
Addressing journalists in Mombasa on Friday, Wiper secretary-general Hassan Omar said: “Mwakwere has asked me to clarify his so-called defection to Wiper. He was never a member of ODM.
“Unfortunately, some people went on to post pictures on social media platforms each time they held talks with him.”
During Senator Boy Juma Boy’s burial in Vanga, speakers including Mr Joho had pressed Mr Mwakwere to state which party he belonged to but the former envoy to Tanzania only said he was in the National Super Alliance (Nasa).
Earlier, Mr Mwakwere had leaned towards ODM and even met its top leaders including Mr Odinga and Mr Joho.
“I want today to clear the air. I have quit Jubilee Party and now I am with my people in Nasa,” Mr Mwakwere told ODM supporters during his homecoming.
But, ODM leaders had expressed unease over Mr Mwakwere’s shift to the party at the eleventh hour.
Saturday Nation has learnt that Mr Mwakwere left ODM after realising he was unwelcome in the branch.
Branch chairman Nicolas Zani told Saturday Nation that party members were concerned that “newcomers” such as Mr Mwakwere had positioned themselves to reap what they had not sown.
Msambweni ODM sub-county chairlady Fatuma Juma had also warned: “We cannot accept projects to come here and get the party tickets at the expense of people who have been with the party and built it to its current strength and popularity.”
Nasa now it faces a unity test especially in fielding candidates with Mr Omar ruling out joint nominations for the coalition’s aspirants.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Ahmed and Gitonga Marete