COUNTY POLITICS: Land injustices a thorny issue Jomvu aspirants dare not talk about


Jomvu is home to Bangladesh – the largest informal settlement at the Coast.

Unresolved land issues are likely to shape Jomvu constituency politics in the August 8 polls as was in 2013.

None of the aspirants readying themselves for the polls has seriously expressed a desire to deal with the decades old squatter problem.

Catholic priest Gabriel Dolan – who has lived in the constituency for years – believes that no solution for the nagging problem is in sight.

MP Badi Twalib – the residents however say – has done well in building new schools and rehabilitating old ones.

He has also performed exceptionally well in putting up infrastructure in the constituency but has been “missing in action” when it comes to land issues.

Jomvu, which was hived off the larger Changamwe constituency before the 2013 polls, is home to Bangladesh – the largest informal settlement at the Coast.

It has many unresolved land disputes in the 32 settlement schemes that include Aldina, Kibarani, Ganahola and Maganda.

The land on both sides of the Mombasa-Nairobi highway from Jomvu Madafuni, Mwamlai in the South-West, Kwa Punda and North-East, all the way past Mikanjuni, Zaire, Jomvu Primary School to Mbuyu wa Chapa in Jomvu Kuu, is said to be owned by tycoons.

Thousands of people have also been displaced by heavy transport companies, which have built Container Freight Stations, motor vehicle garages and storage yards without compensating them.

“The Changamwe highway expansion involved many residents and the Kenya National Highway Authority, investors and stakeholders and did a lot of good in expanding the infrastructure. But on the compensation issue, politicians including the MP have not assisted the people,” said Fr Dolan.

He said local politicians “showed little or no interest at all” in tackling the land issue leaving the electorates disillusioned and hopeless.

Former long-serving MP and ex-assistant minister Ramadhan Kajembe, who lost the senatorial seat to Mr Hassan Omar in the 2013 elections, has declared he will not be in the race but will support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in the August 8 polls.

But like in 2013, the Kajembe family influence still lingers with the entry of the former MP’s son, Mwidani Kajembe in the race. 

In 2013, his other son – Seif Kajembe – battled it out with the incumbent. Incidentally, the senior Kajembe is the incumbent MP’s father-in-law.

In the run-up to the 2013 polls, the relationship brought so much family friction when one of Mr Kajembe’s wives, who happens to be MP Badi’s mother-in-law, supported Mr Seif Kajembe for the seat while the father is said to have supported his son-in-law, the current MP.

This time round, Mr Seif is said to be out of the race but Mr Mwidani, his brother who ironically was Mr Badi’s campaigner in 2013, will try his luck.

“The youth, women groups and thousands of disappointed Jomvu voters have asked me to contest for the seat and rescue them from the bad political leadership being exhibited by my brother-in-law,” Mr Kajembe told a public rally in Mikindani recently.

Most of the 2013 candidates have since given up or relocated to other constituencies or will contest other positions.

Apart from Mr Twalib who won with 11,907 votes on a Wiper ticket and Mr Seif Kajembe, who was second with 7,263 votes on an ODM ticket in 2013, the list had candidates such as Mr Abeid Kombo Juma (Kadu-Asili) and Mr John Musa Kilonzo (URP).

Others were Mr Leonard Nzioki Mwetha (Mazingira Greens Party of Kenya), Mr Mohamed Faki Mwinyihaji (UDF), Mr Mbuli Omari Nyanje (RC), Mr Paul Mihulo Msabaa (Narc-Kenya), Mr Said Mwakama (TNA) and Mr Samuel Kagechu Githendu (KNC).

Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi was in Jomvu recently to campaign for Mr Mwakama, who has switched to Amani National Congress party.

But the fact that many have gone out does not mean that Mr Badi will have it easy as the constituency is fast emerging as a political hotbed of Mombasa County.

Mr Nzai, who has been the Member of County Assembly for several years, seeks to dethrone the MP on Jubilee Party ticket.

For the last few months, Mr Nzai has raised political temperatures in the constituency after hosting high profile church and welfare associations’ fundraisers attended by top politicians including Deputy President William Ruto.

Former Kenya National Union of Teachers Executive Secretary Dan Aloo has declared he will contest the seat on ODM.

Other candidates who have declared an interest include businessman Jonathan Wepukhulu and Mr Said Chande. Others could be on the way.

The constituency is both rural and urban with the majority of the residents being Mijikenda, a factor that favours a Mijikenda candidate.

There are also sizeable populations of Swahilis, Luhyas, Luos and Taita settled mainly in the low-class areas of Mikindani, Bangladesh and Miritini.

Mr Nzai won the MCA seat in 2013 on an ODM ticket. At the Mombasa County Assembly, he was elected minority leader and stayed there for slightly over a year before being unceremoniously hounded out on alleged instructions by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho whom he differed with.

Analysts have claimed that Mr Twalib lobbied Governor Joho to have Nzai kicked out after it emerged that the minority position was giving him “undesirable” political power and influence on the ground and among members of the County Assembly.

Political pundits have claimed that unlike the other 46 counties, Governor Joho has an overbearing influence on the County Assembly both financially and otherwise and for anyone to get any position, one has to be in the governor’s good books.

Since he was relieved the Minority Leader position, Mr Nzai has chosen to craft his own political path.

He recently ditched ODM claiming that he would not get its ticket since his relations with Mr Joho are still frosty.

At a recent rally in Jomvu, Mr Nzai said his vision was “to facilitate community programmes that will empower and instil skills to the jobless youths, give everybody including my opponents an ear to express their views and opinions, learn and accept mistakes from anyone who believes and cares for the community and be a teacher of new ways, especially of how to live well in the community among others”.

Mr Nzai has continuously annoyed the Joho camp not only after hosting DP Ruto last year but also after reaching out to Nyali MP Hezron Awiti, a fierce critic of the Mombasa Governor, thereby allowing Mr Awiti, a Wiper gubernatorial candidate, to penetrate the Luo and Mijikenda vote in the constituency.

At the moment, Mr Nzai faces a criminal case at the Mombasa Law Courts on bribery allegations, which could dampen his campaigns.

But his supporters insist that the case is politically motivated by the MCA’s political opponents.

According to the 2009 census, Jomvu has a population of 102,566 spread in the three wards of Jomvu Kuu, Miritini and Mikindani.

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