Inside Politics

Ruto, Raila race for swing vote gathers pace

Monday, December 20th, 2021 13:53 | By

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday continued to size each other up in the battle for the Coast region vote.

The two rivals, who have activated their allies for the 2022 presidential race, yesterday held meetings with various groups in Mombasa.

Their Coast tour is part of their raging onslaught and mind-games meant to counter each other as they fight for the region which is among those expected to provide the critical swing vote in the August 2022 polls.

While the DP was attending a church service, Raila addressed a gathering of elders.

Giving a description of the greedy hyena, Raila accused some leaders of playing saint just to be elected only to rob the people through corruption.

“They are coming to you, wearing the skin of a sheep, but deep inside their hearts, they wear a heart of a hyena. You should be careful not to fall for their bottom up trap. They will play saint and later consume your wealth,” said Raila.

The Opposition chief said challenges facing the region were unique and only a person who understands them can fix them.

He said the issue of squatters has been a thorn in the flesh for many years since independence and hailed President Uhuru Kenyatta for working hard to resolve it.

“If elected President to succeed him, I will pick from where he would have left to ensure the people of this region suffer no more. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure all Kenyans live a good life and share the national cake equally,” he told elders at Burhania grounds.

Apparently, the Raila meeting was organised by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to upstage Ruto who is also set to address the same group of elders today.

Yesterday, Ruto held a series of meetings in Kisauni, Changamwe and Mvita.

“I was walking around Mombasa and I was shocked at the level of drug abuse, alcoholism and crime among the youth. It is not their problem. We have to get them jobs because if they don’t get them they will drown in these vices. Once we take over the government next year, we will set aside Sh100 billion to get them jobs. We will also create four million jobs for youths,” said Ruto at the Power in the World Christian Church in Nyali.

“I know there are so many land problems here. Once we get into office, we will deal with land issues. The other group known for tales came and disrupted our government.

When we started the Big Four they told us we first change the Constitution to award themselves positions in government and sharing power instead of getting jobs for these people,” said Ruto.

Two million

Among other activities, Ruto graced the launch of Akamba Handicraft Centre in Changamwe. He was also the chief guest during the opening of Boss TV station in the same constituency.

Ruto and Raila have in the last one and a half months also made several trips to Mombasa, Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta and Kwale counties where the former premier has previously enjoyed a commanding influence.

The DP has also been keen to win the close to two million votes, with pundits arguing that despite spirited efforts by local leaders such as Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi to form a Coast-rooted political party, the electorate was likely to back either Ruto or Raila.

In mid-October, Raila pitched tent in Coast for three days touring Wundanyi, Mwatate and Voi in Taita Taveta county and Matuga in Kwale, and made several stopovers in Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu.

He was to return to the region in mid-November for three days as he held a series of rallies and made stopovers on Witu and Lamu islands, Hindi town, Kamukunji grounds and Mkunguni, all in Malindi.

During the visit he also held a series of rallies in Kilifi County before winding up his tour in Kwale where he addressed gatherings in Lunga Lunga, Msambweni and Likoni and several parts of Mombasa.

Ruto started his latest tours in Coast in October with a three-day tour in Mombasa and Kilifi where he attended the burial of Bishop George Mwangome and his brother Adam Chipa.

The same month, he toured Wundanyi, Mwatate and Voi in Taita Taveta before proceeding to Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu.

In late November, he visited Kinango in Kwale for the dedication and the launch of the Duruma Full Bible.

Dr Richard Bosire, a political science lecturer at University of Nairobi says because the swing regions such Coast and Mt Kenya have no serious or any presidential candidate for 2022, and are already divided politically, they have offered themselves up for grabs by the heavyweights.
Retain grip

Bosire says efforts by Ruto and Raila to win the hearts of the voters in the region are facing resistance from local leaders who have previously controlled them and are keen to retain their grip.

Ruto and Raila, according to Bosire, are keen on reaping from divisions in areas, which previously did not vote for them outside their respective strongholds, adding that this had led to heightened political activities like it happened in the Western region in the last election when the ODM leader and Uhuru battled for its votes.

“Ruto is targeting the Coast and Ukambani which have been Raila’s bases because he is likely to be a beneficiary of the divisions thereby having one of the emergent political wings forming a coalition with him. He wants to fight to keep Mt Kenya and Maa, which voted for his Jubilee side. On the other hand, Raila is targeting Mt Kenya, North-eastern and Maa regions with the hope that one political wing would back him,” Bosire said.

Yesterday, Raila said his government will assist the area to unlock its potential.

“This is a region blessed with many natural resources, we want the people of the Coast to benefit from them and build their economy and that of the country.”

The ODM boss said his agenda is to ensure every child gets an education to the highest level saying that he will work with experts to ensure universal free education is realized up to the highest level.

“It is doable. And with proper management of resources and bringing an end to corruption, we can achieve this,” he said.

Separately, Ruto’s allies, who accompanied him, asked that the Ndung’u Land Report be made public.

Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Mohamed Ali (Nyali), Juma Wario (Tana River) and former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said implementation of the report’s recommendations will sort out the sticky land issues in Kenya for good.

Jumwa claimed that Raila had betrayed the region, especially after the Handshake.

She said Raila had frustrated every effort that will transform the lives of the people of the Coastal Region.

“He pretends that he is not in government. Yet, he prides himself in being the President’s adviser. We will not vote for Odinga.”

—Reporting by Harrison Kivisu, Eric Wainaina and Rawlings Otieno

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