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
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.