By Alfred Bambanya
The Kadu Asili political party has decried the perceived lack of a political voice in the Coastal region saying it has denied its rights to socio-economic development.
The party’s Kilifi County branch said the coast region had continued to suffer since the parties most of its elected leaders lack aspirations for the residents in their manifestos.
Addressing a press conference in Malindi town on Friday, the branch officials said the region had suffered historical land injustices and the death of most of its economic activities such as cash crop production since there was no political voice to fight for the region.
They called on the region’s residents to join and support home grown political parties with a view to having a voice whenever leaders elected on those parties’ tickets sit to divide the national cake, including key national appointments.
The branch secretary, Mr. Jacob Kazungu, who read a lengthy statement on behalf of the branch officials, said the party would be keen to know and see whether the land question has been addressed or mentioned at all in the BBI proposals.
“As a party, we have an elaborate plan to go through the entire document with our team of constitutional lawyers before we can give a party position, whether we shall support it or shoot it down. However, we shall be keen to know and see as a party whether the land question has been addressed or mentioned at all in the proposals,” said Mr. Katana.
The branch secretary called for the opening up of the BBI report for national dialogue, noting that any attempt to personalize the BBI process or to exclude views from many Kenyans would undermine the very foundation and the purported purpose of inclusion and uniting the country.
He said since Kenya is governed politically, whoever is able to mobilize gets the right to share or sit at the dinner table of the national cake, something the region’s leaders had failed to do since they belong to parties with alien ideologies in relation to the regional socio-economic needs.
“While we have been able to mobilize, our mobilization has played into other political parties and not our own and so our voices have always drowned along the way. It is time that we change this narrative,” the statement read.
He said for the land question to be fully addressed in the coastal region, there is need for both political and legal goodwill from the government to confront it, adding that this could easily be done with the involvement of the political leadership.
“Unfortunately, neither our Parliamentary elected leadership nor the county leadership has been able to tackle this problem because of the negative political ideology of the land problems of the parties they were elected in. Such parties are either the problem or are propagating the vice,” he said.
“There has been no effort by the government to help the region recover its identity of the cash crops that shaped the economic standing in the yesteryears, such as coconuts, cashew nuts, bixa and cotton,” he said adding that this was despite the fact that there had been continuous research on coffee, tea pyrethrum among other cash crops elsewhere.
KENYA PORTS AUTHORITY
He noted that the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), being a national organisation in the coastal region, had not added to the economic standing of the region.
“With the strategic transfer of most of its functions to Nairobi, the building of an inland container depot (in Embaskasi), the dry port in Naivasha and the mandatory order to carry containers by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the current KPA ecosystem has not only been majorly compromised but has also rendered most people in the region jobless.”
The branch vice chairperson, Ms Ann Sidi, called on the BBI secretariat to translate the report and distribute it to all Kenyans for them to read, understand and make informed decisions.
On his part, Mr. Gilbert Katana, a party member, called for the formation of strong coast-based party as opposed to the formation of only one party that could easily be manipulated to sing the tunes of numerical parties from outside the region.
“For us to have a political voice, we call on our people to embrace locally formed parties so that when they are elected, they may have bargaining power as opposed to the current scenario in which our elected leaders belong to parties that have no interest in the development of the region,” Mr. Gilbert Katana, a member of the party said.