Is idea of Coast party viable or a mirage?

Sixty days to the lapse of the deadline for political parties to meet tough conditions to be eligible to field candidates in the next elections, proponents of a Coast party are yet to unveil a new outfit.

The leadership of the fringe parties in the region said yesterday they have no resources to open offices in at least 24 counties as required by the Registrar of Political Parties.

Yesterday, ODM officials in Kilifi also piled pressure on Governor Amason Kingi to state whether he was still in ODM to end the suspense and start the party’s mobilisation.

Governor Kingi has been pushing for the formation of a political party, which he said will fight for the interests of the region even as ODM leader Raila Odinga advised him against the clamour.

“Kingi has not resigned as ODM branch chairman. He knows that it is not possible to unveil a party to meet the registrar’s conditions to field candidates in 2022,” said Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire.

Mr Mwambire, who is the ODM Kilifi branch secretary, said Kingi and the other so-called ODM rebel leaders have not resigned from the party and should make the decision soon. “Kingi has been holding rallies and meetings recently and has not spoken about the new party. The plans are dead. He is a clever guy; he will do what is best for him,” he said.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has since declared that he will remain in ODM and fight it out for the presidential party ticket.

In a rally on the Building Bridges Initiative held at Caltex Grounds in Likoni Sub-county in March, Joho asked Raila, who was present, to support him if he wins the party ticket.

“I will support you if you win the party ticket and I urge you to support me if a win it,” Joho had told Raila.

Raila then welcomed Joho’s statement and urged Kingi to return to the fold instead of leading the clamour for a Coast-based party or a coalition of parties, saying he would be in a national political outfit.

Yesterday, lawyer Ananiah Mwaboza said the idea of forming a Coast-based party would remain a mirage if there was no funding. He said it will be impossible for the fringe parties to meet the conditions of the registrar of political parties and hence die a natural death.

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho . July 6, 2021. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kadu-Asili Chairman Joshua Kombora said unlike in the past when small parties with MCAs received political parties funding, currently, they do not get the money.

“The condition that all parties should establish offices in at least 24 counties is a big challenge because we do not receive funding from the Political Parties Fund,” said Kombora.

Political parties with MPs are the only ones that benefit from the allocation. Mr Kombora said their only hope was a review of those tough conditions or an extension of time.

“Kadu Asili has managed to open 10 offices in Coast, Western and Nyanza. We might not be able to open the rest as required by the registrar because we have no money. Many small parties across the country face a similar challenge,” said Kombora.

“We used to get Sh1 million per year until after the 2017 elections. Kadu-A has eight MCAs with no MP so it does not benefit. It is like they want to kill our outfits,” he said.

The Kadu-A chairman said the idea to establish a coalition was in limbo, adding, “We will push on with the talks, but the chances are slim with these conditions.”

Mwaboza, who is also a former Kisauni MP, said none of the Coast parties has complied with the requirements of the registrar. He said with no financiers it will not be possible for the parties to prosper.

“It has been impossible for Coast parties to fund their activities. The idea of forming a new party or for existing ones to meet the registrar’s condition remains a mirage,” said Mwamboza.

Yesterday, Kingi and his younger brother Michael Kingi, who is the Magharini MP, did not pick our calls. Last month, the young Kingi said the party would be unveiled by end of July, adding he would defend his seat on the new party’s ticket.

“I was elected on an ODM ticket, but I will not be part of a party that has no local roots. The party will be unveiled soon,” said the MP.

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Governor Kingi had earlier indicated that he will unveil the party in April, but extended this to June. He has since remained silent about the prospects of forming a new party before the 2022 elections.

Yesterday, Mombasa lawyer Abubakar Yusuf said there was a lurking risk of Coast parties being de-registered for non-compliance with the regulations under the Political Parties Act.

He said the only option was for them to join forces and get resources to help meet the conditions and become compliant.

“The small parties from Coast and elsewhere can invite politicians like Governor Amason Kingi and get the required resources to enable them to comply,” he said.

Pwani University don Halim Shauri said small parties should embark on a fundraising mission, sell the parties to funders especially politicians like Kingi or embrace partnerships through coalitions to remain afloat.

“The small parties from Coast can go back to Governor Kingi and get bankrolled if they cannot mobilise resources to enable them to comply. All small parties across the country should get funders to have life or risk being deregistered,” Prof Shauri warned.

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