Although he only publicly declared it on Monday, Mohammed Amir has been engaging the UDA party for more than six months, the Star has learnt.
Amir officially joined UDA on Monday and declared his interest in the Mombasa senator seat. He is Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s elder half-brother.
Amir was received by UDA stalwart and former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, UDA national organising secretary Karisa Nzai and county coordinator Samir Abdalla at the Mombasa Hustler Centre in Nyali.
His decision to join the UDA and break ranks with his family has raised eyebrows. The other family members are staunch supporters of ODM. Joho is ODM deputy party leader and is a fierce critic of Deputy President William Ruto.
Brought back to Kenya towards the end of 2017 from Canada where he was working, Amir was installed in the powerful position of head of the Mombasa county inspectorate, replacing Nahid Musa who was retiring in early January 2018.
His stint, however, lasted barely eight months before he was sent on compulsory leave in September and his place taken by Said Gullet, alias Nyerere, in an acting capacity. Gullet was confirmed as the head after Amir was sacked.
It is not clear what transpired between the two, but reports then indicated that Amir was “uncooperative”.
Born of the same father but different mothers, Amir and Joho have not enjoyed as close a relationship as that between the governor and his elder brother Abu.
A soft-spoken man, Amir has avoided the limelight, quietly going about his business, trying to avoid the media as much as possible.
He got a job as the officer in charge of charitable programmes at Mombasa Cement, helping philanthropic CEO Hasmukh Patel build a good image with his charitable activities, especially at the Sahajanand Special School.
On Tuesday, Amir told the Star his decision to join UDA was informed by the agenda of the party and the interests of residents. He said he is a neutral and fair person who is always looking out for the best interests of the people he serves.
“We have to look at the political wave and the agenda for the people. I figured UDA, at this time, are the ones that are having the right agenda for the people,” Amir said.
However, he was quick to explain that there is no political beef between him and “anyone else”.
When asked whether his decision will not bring any friction with the family, Amir said Kenya is a democratic country.
“The party doesn’t matter. I am just trying to help the people at the bottom who have been overlooked for a long time and this party is the party that has the vision to elevate those people.”
He said the elevation of the people at the bottom has been very slow and “people are tired”.
“We have waited for change for a very long time. The changes that are there are very minimal.
“We need someone who will implement things at a faster pace and Mr Ruto is the only one that I see that is really headed forward in trying to elevate these people.
“I have no beef with anyone or any party at all. I look at a party that has the will to help the people, not just any political party,” he said.
He said working for a philanthropist has given him another perspective of life that has changed his way of thinking.
“I work with somebody who is giving and so the values that I learnt there are the values that I want to bring to the party. I am looking at the people at the bottom,” Amir said.
He said UDA has the same values.
Hassan Omar said Amir has been engaging the party for quite a while as he sought to understand what it really stands for.
His move, he noted, shows that the party is gaining strength and has already surpassed ODM in terms of popularity.
“We have never been in doubt that the UDA is the most popular party in Mombasa and the region,” Omar said.
He said Amir’s declaration makes him the seventh candidate to declare interest in the Mombasa senator seat through the UDA ticket.
“We have about five serious candidates, including those who are on their way and those who have already joined,” Omar said.
He said this was made clear to Amir so that he be aware that there would be no sacred cows in UDA.
“We will all be subject to free and fair nominations so that we get the best man or woman,” Omar said on the phone.
“You see, whether he becomes senator or not is not a decision for us to make. It is a decision first for the party membership to make in terms of the nominations and then ultimately the people of Mombasa.”
He said the party is all-welcoming and will not discriminate against anyone.
“The party is a mass movement and does not belong to anybody. There is this confusion where people think that UDA is Jubilee. UDA is not Jubilee,” Omar said.
By The Star Kenya