Nyali MP Mohamed Ali
Last Sunday, a sufficiently philanthropic Deputy President William Ruto gave a small church in Mombasa a modest Sh5 million advance payout for a fundraiser scheduled for next week.
He had barely finished announcing his Sh2 million contribution and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Sh3 million contribution when former journalist and now Nyali MP Mohamed Ali, surged forward with the wad of cash.
Betrayer! New Mr Moneybags! DP’s brand new second-hand spanner-boy! Freshly minted “shit-stem” man; the social media went on fire with choice epithets against the man who rode to power on strong social justice credentials pegged on his investigatory journalism prowess.
He has not known peace since then; memes have been crafted for him, cartoons circulated, and videos composed of his new “sell-out” status. When we caught up with him in Bunge this week dressed in fine three-piece suit, he feigned ignorance at the outpouring of anger against him.
In between a modest breakfast of boiled maize, mandazi, boiled egg, sweet potato and yams, “Moha” denied, rejected, complained, promised, demonstrated, whined and laughed for good measure.
“I was seated at the front row of the church and I was tapped on my shoulders by his handlers to pass it across to him. If this is a crime so be it,” he explained of the church incident as he struggled to chew maize.
Harambees remain illegal for state officers, I reminded him. Besides the law, promotion of tokenism by senior government officials betrays the 2010 governance concept in which national resources are shared as matter of right, not a favour, I pressed further.
“It is unfair to load that on me when you know I am not the police, a prosecutor or a judge. There are many arms of government to check on all these and unfortunately all of them have a dent. Should I tell people not to receive money? I am not a Christian… It’s up to them to set the standards,” he garbled a response.
He was fidgety and I was determined to nail him. He was blaming “a small band of goons” belonging to his former ODM party for running smear campaigns against himself and all who step out line with baba. I was as cynical as I was wont to be.
In his heyday as a newsman, Moha jumbled between an investigative journalist, a news reporter and a radio show host. He was an unapologetic hater of the “system” that teaches primitive accumulation of wealth at the expense of social justice.
Towards the end, and over and above the social justice tag, he left no doubt that he was NASA leader Raila Odinga’s dependable zealot. His baptism of fire, however, was the ODM nomination debacle in Nyali when he faced ODM Deputy Leader Hassan Joho’s blood relative. In the circumstances and to put it mildly, he could only have seen the ODM nomination certificate on ViuSasa. But he trudged on innocently to the inevitable political heartbreak which he admits jolted him and possibly predisposed him to the trajectory he has taken.
“I pleaded my case to party organs and to Baba to no avail. I went in as an independent, won and fought the election petitions alone. My constituency has since been starved of all its entitlements at the county government of Mombasa,” Moha explained.
Is this why he surrendered his soul to the Jubilee government he had fought for five years, I asked. He deliriously protested, eyes wide open, and gestures flying:
“I was knocking on every door where I could find help for my people, the DP’s door was one of them. I have never been bought and I will never be bought. I will work with saints, criminals, prostitutes if that is what it will take to help my people.”
Moha’s is very bitter with Joho. He calls him the “Slay-King Governor” who is presiding over the sinking of Mombasa Island. Since the election, they only met during the governor’s inauguration. They have never spoken, he says.
“He was never my buddy in the first place, his brother Abu was. I knew of him. I did not know him,” he denied him.
He however still retains his admiration for Raila but complains he is surrounded by political con-men and con-women. He maintains that Raila still remains the best bet for the country if he were to be freed from the shackles of his clueless hanger’s on.
“I met him the other day over the World Cup period at Serena and he hugged me like his son. I felt comforted. He joked that he’d heard that I left but I explained that I was working for the people. He said that is leadership and invited me for lunch at his home,” he says of Raila.
Asked why it has been hard to distinguish him from the pack on foreign trips, debate on 16 per cent tax and other mwananchi issues which turn up in Bunge, he was clearly vexed:
“That is ignorance,” he said, dangerously wagging his finger, while picking on the now infamous World Cup trip in which a committee ended up plagiarising a report after spending weeks in Russia:
“Number one, I am a player of Bunge FC. Two, I am not a member of the Sports Committee. Three, I only watched two World Cup matches as I spent the two weeks engaging Kenyans in Moscow.”
On the tax, he says he was for zero per cent fuel tax but his voice was outnumbered.
For a DP who to Moha’s politically virgin eyes was the paragon of ills in his first term, he is now such an exemplar of progressive politics that he struggled to pin a vice on him.
“I swear, if he ever does anything wrong, I will be the first person to condemn him,” he vowed.
He says he has not been following the DP around, placing the events he has attended with the DP at only two, mbili tu! As the interview progressed, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo happened to pass by and offered a defence for the man from Nyali.
“He’s paying the price for the retrogressive politics where one is branded a pariah simply on account of not singing the same note with the others in the area, where they take you for a lost ship,” Junior said and gave a small anecdote of Moha’s church experience:
“The DP once came to my area and I made the mistake of saying he was my friend, that I used to represent him in court and made other statements in that line, I almost burnt my fingers,” the senator said.
Moha says he has not betrayed anyone and vows to come back in a big way soon. When I showed doubts on it, he walked me up his 17th Floor office at KICC where an epic Jicho Pevu series is being packaged. “When this is out, I will become an instant hero but by the time I am done, I will be a villain,” he said.
He was resolute that change will not happen through the Parliament he sits in because its a closed system: “It will only happen through a revolution.”
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