HOW UHURUTO WON THE COAST

Ju­bilee’s agenda to re­verse ODM dom­i­nance at the Coast has started to bear fruit. Dur­ing the tour of Kwale county, Gov­er­nor Salim Mvurya asked his peo­ple to vote for Uhuru

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices -

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s tour of the Coast can only be char­ac­terised as a huge suc­cess, in terms of pol­i­tics and de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion.

For the first time since Ju­bilee came to power in 2013, Pres­i­dent Uhuru and Deputy Pres­i­dent William Ruto, seized the op­por­tu­nity to talk to the Coast com­mu­ni­ties about the govern­ment’s de­vel­op­ment agenda for them and a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to the thorny land re­form is­sue.

To en­tice the com­mu­ni­ties to sup­port Ju­bilee, Pres­i­dent Uhuru com­mis­sioned a num­ber of de­vel­op­ment projects that will have a di­rect im­pact on the lives of res­i­dents in the near and dis­tant fu­ture.

Among the projects was the long-awaited Sala GateMalindi road, which will link the Tsavo East Na­tional Park to the tourist town of Malindi.

To the de­light of Kil­ifi farm­ers, the Pres­i­dent an­nounced plans to re­vive the now-de­funct Kil­ifi Cashewnut Fac­tory. Up north in the Tana River county, Uhuru an­nounced the al­lo­ca­tion of Sh7 bil­lion to re­vi­talise the stalled Bura and Hola ir­ri­ga­tion schemes.

The list of projects to be un­der­taken by Ju­bilee across the re­gion is im­pres­sive — some of them are on­go­ing. As he un­veiled these projects, Uhuru said to the com­mu­ni­ties, “We won’t leave you in poverty, even though you did not vote for us.”

Ju­bilee’s agenda to re­verse ODM dom­i­nance in the re­gion, has started to bear fruit.

Dur­ing the tour of Kwale county, for ex­am­ple, Gov­er­nor Salim Mvurya asked his peo­ple to vote for Uhuru. All in­di­ca­tions are that Tana River is also mov­ing to­wards Ju­bilee, just as Lamu has done.

Po­lit­i­cally, it can now be in­ferred that the en­tire Coast is mov­ing to Ju­bilee.

On the peren­nial land­less­ness is­sue, the Pres­i­dent told elected lead­ers, “You can­not con­tinue go­ing back to your peo­ple af­ter ev­ery elec­tion to talk about the land prob­lem in­stead of com­ing to sit down with me and let us solve it.”

The Pres­i­dent re­gret­ted the op­po­si­tion’s pol­i­tics of self- in­ter­est, in­sults, dis­re­spect, lies and ret­ro­gres­sive poli­cies that were wit­nessed dur­ing his last visit here.

“We can­not al­ways ex­tend our hand of friend­ship to lo­cal lead­ers who have con­tin­ued to in­sult my ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Uhuru said.

He was right. Some politi­cians have blamed the govern­ment for the re­gion’s fail­ures, even if lead­ers and com­mu­ni­ties here also share the blame.

The land is­sue is par­tic­u­larly glar­ing. Ev­ery elec­tion cy­cle, politi­cians have ap­plied the pol­i­tics of ‘us ver­sus them’ to whip up emo­tions among vot­ers and win elec­tions.

The ‘lie’ the Pres­i­dent al­luded to has to do with the hypocrisy Coast politi­cians have used on the land ques­tion — char­ac­ter­is­ing out­siders or peo­ple from up­coun­try as land grab­bers — and re­frain­ing from blam­ing our own com­mu­ni­ties, groups and in­di­vid­u­als who have in equal mea­sure con­trib­uted to the land grab­bing cri­sis.

As Pres­i­dent Uhuru and his Deputy wound up their visit, there were lessons to be learned. One is the ur­gent need for elected lead­ers to work with the na­tional govern­ment to pro­mote de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing land re­forms.

Sec­ond, we must shun the pol­i­tics of big­otry, in­sults and dis­re­spect which have only served to iso­late the re­gion from main­stream pol­i­tics.

Third, our lead­ers must work to­gether to solve re­gional prob­lems in­stead of shift­ing blame to other peo­ple.

What ails the Coast is the un­will­ing­ness to em­brace change, even if is to our ad­van­tage. The land is­sue is par­tic­u­larly glar­ing and must be sorted out.

The pol­i­tics of ‘us ver­sus them’ has trapped vot­ers into be­lieve that the prob­lems the peo­ple face at the Coast are caused by out­siders.

There are two op­tions avail­able to the voter at the 2017 elec­tions — con­ti­nu­ity and change. The Coast, cer­tainly, needs to vote change.

Pres­i­dent Uhuru came and went. It is now upon the elected lead­ers in the re­gion to seize the ini­tia­tive for a new be­gin­ning.

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