Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal has continued to exhibit indecisiveness on his political plans ahead of the next general election.
Last week, Shahbal attended a Wiper party retreat at Maanzoni in Athi River, Machakos county presided over by party leader Kalonzo Musyoka. At the meeting, Kalonzo welcomed the Mombasa businessman back to the party and excitedly offered to put a party branded cap on his head as a sign that he had rejoined Wiper but he declined and said he is still consulting, a move that shocked the delegates. Shahbal was the Wiper party candidate for the Mombasa governor seat in the 2013 polls. In 2017, he contested on a Jubilee party ticket. He lost both elections to Governor Hassan Joho. In recent months, he befriended both Joho and party leader Raila Odinga and has been scheming to enter ODM to contest the governor seat on the orange party ticket.
His moves have, however, been met with hostility from ODM financiers in Mombasa who have vowed to derail his plans of getting a nomination ticket for governor even if he has the backing of top party leadership. Among those reported to be against Shahbal’s ODM move include governor Joho’s influential elder brother Abu Joho, county ODM party chairman Mohammed Hatimy, and other officials who have also warned that they will not clear Shahbal to run on the party ticket. This stance is said to have scared Shahbal prompting him to embark on seeking Wiper as his plan B due to the massive Kamba vote bloc in the port city.
In 2013, the Kambas rallied behind Shahbal and made him a formidable opponent to Joho. According to observers, Shahbal’s behaviour at the Wiper meeting in Maanzoni shows he was yet to give up on ODM, whose ticket he desperately needs so as to be attractive to party supporters in the port city. One Mohammed Idriss, a political adviser of Governor Joho is said to be Shahbal’s link with Raila. He continues to assure Shahbal that all is well and that the governor ODM ticket would be his for the taking, hostility notwithstanding.
Others scheming for the Mombasa governor seat 2022 include former senator Hassan Omar, former Nyali MP Hezron Awiti, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, Mombasa deputy governor William Kingi, Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo and former journalist Francis Thoya. Shahbal prides himself as frontrunner apparently by assuming that his 2013 and 2017 political networks are still intact. However, analysts say, the dynamics have since changed anyone could emerge the winner.