Joho and arch-rival Suleiman Shahbal alliance sparks succession talk

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (right) and politician Suleiman Shahbal in the new greeting style, foot-shake, recently. Photo/Courtesy

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and arch-rival Suleiman Shahbal’s new found friendship has become the talk of town, triggering a political succession debate.

As they say, there are no permanent enemies in politics, and the saying seems to be at work for the two politicians who were fierce enemies in the 2017 General Election.

Shahbal, who was the Jubilee Party candidate, lost to Joho in the contest for the governor’s seat.

But since March 30, Joho has found a new friend in Shahbal as the duo teamed up to launch the sanitising spray booth prototype at the Likoni Ferry Terminus jointly sponsored by their respective foundations.

Revive economy

Shahbal also met ODM leader Raila Odiga twice in Mombasa and at his Nairobi home, where it seems, apart from discussing Covid-19 issues, they had a chance to discuss Mombasa succession politics.

Photos of Shahbal with Raila Odinga trended on social media on Friday when Shahbal visited the ODM leader in Nairobi, eliciting different opinions from political pundits.

After meeting Raila, Shahbal posted on his Facebook page that he and Joho would do all they can to cushion Mombasa residents from hunger, perhaps an indication that Raila seems to have endorsed the new working relationship.

“We had long discussions with Raila Odinga on how best we can revive our economy with job creation and economic incentives post-Corona and SGR. We must prepare for the future,” Shahbal posted on Facebook.

Shahbal has backed Joho’s plan to mobilise resources to provide food for more than 227,000 vulnerable residents who are to be affected by the measures to stop coronavirus.

“I reminded Baba that he also has children in Mombasa and while we appreciate his gesture to send food to Kibra he must not forget his children in Mombasa.

I am starting my food distribution plan next week and I wanted him to also remember us in Mombasa,” said Shahbal.

“He graciously arranged to send me some food to distribute on his behalf. I will discuss this with Gov Joho and community leaders on the best way forward and to make sure that as many people benefit as possible. This is a great contribution to Gov Joho’s drive to help our people,” he added.

 But does his closeness with Raila and Joho have a bearing on the plan to succeed Joho? 

After his post on Facebook, the social media was awash with praise for Shahbal for setting aside politics and deciding to work with Joho to better the lives of Mombasa people.

Support efforts

A Kenyan Mandata Masapata said: “Just loving the way that you kept away politics and decided to work with Joho in dealing with this pandemic. God bless you my incoming governor.”

 “Your gesture is very much welcomed but beneath it, there are volumes of political moves,” wrote Nicholas Koech.

“Politicians should learn politics, leadership and friendships from Governor Joho and Suleiman Shahbal. They were both fierce competitors in the gubernatorial race.

But they’re working now together, this only happens in Mombasa in Africa; May Allah bless you people. I’ll come with my present after this pandemic,” posted Sk Lenguyia.

Last month Joho announced his government’s plan to set aside Sh250 million to buy food for 227,404 vulnerable households.

Shahbal, who vied for the governor’s seat in 2013 and 2017, said he would do everything possible to support the relief food mobilisation efforts to assist those who will be affected by harsh economic times. 

“What the county government is proposing is fantastic. It is a noble initiative that will cushion the most vulnerable members of society who have to work on a daily basis during the curfew (and) in the event of a lockdown,” said Shahbal. 

Attempts by People Daily to reach Joho for a comment on this matter were unsuccessful as phone calls and text messages went answered.

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