Democracy slowly creeping into Tana River politics

Negotiated democracy, a form of dictatorship by communities’ councils of elders is slowly dying away.

Now the race for the county’s gubernatorial position is wide, with each of the five gubernatorial candidates seeking alliances with members of different communities, not necessarily through the councils.

Those in the race include incumbent Hussein Dado, former assistant ministers Danson Buya Mungatana and major (rtd) Dhadho Godhana, Tana River County Assembly Speaker Dr. Nuh Nassir and former Tana River County Finance Executive Ismail Jillo Algi.

In 2013, the Orma and Wardei communities forged an alliance that propelled Ambassador Hussein Dado into clinching the gubernatorial position.

It was understandable then, as the Orma and the Pokomo had just engaged each other in bloody ethnic clashes that had led to the death of at least 180 people and the displacement of thousands.

The Wardei and Orma arrangement left members of the Pokomo community ‘salivating’ as most seats were swept by members of the new found coalition between the previously antagonistic pastoralist communities.

Despite being the majority, the Pokomo managed to get only five of the 15 county ward seats, leaving the rest to the pastoralists.

The community did not get any of the three parliamentary seats.

Although Dado appointed members of the Pokomo community into his government, the Pokomo still felt left out as most senior positions went to members of the pastoralist communities.

This woke up the fractious Pokomo council of elders (Gasa), Pokomo professionals as well as a conglomeration of farming communities known as Chanamaro to try to find one candidate who would face Governor Dado.

Chanamaro is a merger of riverine communities that include the Pokomo, the Munywoyaya, the Wailuana and the Watta, who are predominantly farmers.

Despite intense lobbying within and without the county, the elders’ and professionals’ efforts yielded no fruit.

Mungatana and Godhana, who hail from the Pokomo community, succeeded in dividing the council of elders (Gasa), and were separately endorsed to vie for the position of governor.

Mungatana was endorsed by a section of Gasa elders at a colourful ceremony in Majengo area of Kinakomba ward in November 2016, while Godhana received his endorsement from the Chanamaro and another section of the Gasa elders two weeks later at Shika Adamu in Bura constituency.

The two have since been cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to face Ambassador Dado on August 8, 2017.

Mungatana’s line-up includes former County Health Executive Hassan Bare from the Wardei community (running mate), Mohamed Maro from the Wailuana community (senate candidate) and Fatuma Dika from the Somali community (Woman representative) candidate.

They are all vying on a Kenya Patriots Party (KPP) ticket alongside Garsen legislator Ibrahim Sane, who is defending his seat.

Mungatana and Sane were elbowed out of the Jubilee Party, of which they were point men in the county, and forced to join the Jubilee-allied outfit following the defection of Governor Dado into the party.

Major (rtd) Godhana on the other has embraced a line-up that includes Salim Batuli from the Wailuana community (running mate), Michael Nkaduda from the Pokomo community (Senate candidate) and Rehema Hassan from the Wailuana community (Women Representative candidate).

Godhana and Nkaduda are in the Orange Democratic Movement while Ms Hassan is vying on a Maendeleo Chap (MCC) party.

Although Alfelt Mumbo Abio-Gunda has the ODM ticket, she does not have the blessings of Chanamaro to run for the woman representative position.

Godhana also has in his line-up Mr. Yakub Adow from the Wardei community (ODM’s Bura parliamentary candidate), Said Hiribae alias Said Posta from the Pokomo community (Ford Kenya’s candidate for Galole constituency) and Ali Abubakar Aliwayu from the Pokomo community (ODM candidate for Garsen constituency).

Mr. Godhana’s party, the ODM has not fielded a parliamentary candidate in Galole constituency after the Chanamaro community endorsed Mr. Hiribae.

The incumbent is in a rather precarious situation, having made some blunders while fighting his critics, especially Bura legislator Ali Wario.

To trim Wario to size, Governor Dado fronted Mohamed Dube, a former acting Clerk of the County Assembly, to run for the Bura parliamentary seat and his former Health Executive to challenge Ibrahim Sane in Garsen, another fierce critic of his administration.

In retaliation, Mr. Wario sponsored Mr. Algi, who is contesting on a Party for Democracy and Reforms (PDR) to challenge the governor while Sane moved to Mungatana’s line-up where he is defending his seat on a KPP ticket.

Dado, Wario, Dube and Algi are all from the Orma community while Sane is a Wardei.

Now the governor is in a dilemma, after his defection to Wario’s party as he cannot support both candidates.

Elders allied to Wario have demanded that Dado openly declares his support for Wario for them to prevail upon Algi to step down in his favour.

This would mean abandoning his ‘project’, Mr. Dube.

Elders allied to Dube have on the other hand demanded that the governor continues supporting Dube with the threat that doing the contrary would cost him their votes.

In 2013, Wario partnered with former Garsen MP Molu Galgalo Shambaro (an Orma), who was then seeking the gubernatorial position, to deny Dado a chunk of the Orma vote. Shambaro garnered more than 9,000 votes and was number two in the race.

Mr. Shambaro, who is Dado’s first cousin, is now in Dr. Nassir’s line-up in which he is contesting for the senatorial position on a Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya ticket.

The governor is also faced with the quandary of choosing between incumbent woman representative Halima Ware Duri from the Orma community and Kanu’s Amina Dika Abdulahi from the Somali community.

He is said to be warming up to Dika with the hope of winning the Somali vote despite the fact that his community endorsed Mrs. Duri.

Although Dr. Nassir is the sole gubernatorial candidate from the Wardei community, he may not get 100 percent votes from his community.

Governor Dado retained his deputy, Jire Siyat Mohamed, as his running mate while Mungatana took Bare. Jire and Bare are Wardeis and this could potentially deny the veterinary doctor some of the community’s votes.

The outcome of the gubernatorial vote in Tana River County will therefore be determined by minority communities, especially immigrants from other counties.

It will be determined by the Giriama from Kilifi County and upcountry people, especially traders in urban centres and farmers in the Bura and Hola Irrigation Settlement Schemes.

Source: Kenya News Agency