Opinion: Only Joho Naturally Fits Odinga’s Shoes in ODM

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The reason I support Hassan Ali Joho to lead the ODM Party post-Odinga and become the party’s presidential candidate someday is because Joho stood for ODM when ODM needed real fighters.

Joho is a fighter with scars. I deeply understand him when he dismisses those saying he has been absent. What’s six months for a man who’s given his all to the ODM party, for years?

Only those who just started following ODM recently, or whose benefactors are suddenly active because there may soon be a vacancy at the top, think Joho has been absent. This is not true.

Joho has fought ODM wars longer. He’s also been fervently loyal to Raila Odinga for ages. And if we’ve learnt anything about Ruto, it is that loyalty should count and decent politicians reward it.

Joho was nearly destroyed by the Uhuru state. But not just Uhuru. The Kibaki state, in order to destroy Raila allies in Mombasa, singled Joho out and told the Americans [that] he was a drug dealer.

The Americans investigated this for years and concluded that Joho had been a victim of bad politics.

Then came the issue with his academic papers. And guns. These issues may today appear petty, even nonsensical, but the state went all out to use them to destroy Joho, and in the resultant outcome, finish ODM in Mombasa.

Yet he overcame all that and won the Mombasa governor seat in 2017, and not only that, he ensured the ODM Party had a super-majority in the Mombasa County Assembly as well as the elected majority in parliament.

Oparanya has been ODM Deputy Party Leader chiefly on paper. I do not know him and I leave him to those who know him to say something about him.

Oparanya has become a fixture in ODM demos post-2022 simply because he’s idle. So demos offer him much needed distraction. And now, he sees a chance to inherit from where he sowed so little.

I support, in principle, his right to want to lead ODM, but I believe Joho is the future of the ODM Party.

Mombasa was always a battleground, and Joho won many of those battles for ODM and, for Raila Odinga; battles against a very virulent opponent – the state in the dying days of Kibaki and high noon of Uhuru rule.

So, say all you want but the de facto Deputy Party Leader of ODM who naturally FITS the shoes of Raila Odinga in ODM, and at coalition-building level, is, and has always been, Hassan Ali Joho.

Dikembe Disembe is a political researcher and writer

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