Of Uhuru-Moi friendship and prophecy of Kanu ruling ‘for 100 years’
Noah Cheploen @heploennoah
When the late Joseph Kamotho said Kanu would rule for 100 years—a proclamation that would later be reinforced by then President Daniel Moi—his statement elicited a lot of derision among Kenyans because the party had become very unpopular.
Many Kenyans dismissed Kamotho’s statement as “power hangover” considering that he was a long-serving minister in the Moi administration and also the secretary general of Kanu—a position that made him an object of scorn and mockery.
But this statement, uttered more than two decades ago, has become the subject of debate in political circles after Kanu chair and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi signed a post-election coalition agreement with President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.
Gideon, President Moi’s political heir, has been growing in stature over the last few years and often remind his opponents that his eyes are fixed on the ultimate prize—becoming the President in 2022.
His long friendship with Uhuru, which dates back to their days as students at the St Mary’s School, Nairobi in late 1970s, has come in handy reinforced by strong ties that bind the Kenyatta and Moi families.
Moi served as founding President Jomo Kenyatta’s Vice President for about 13 years and succeeded him upon his death in 1978.
And as he prepared to leave the stage, Moi returned the favour. He groomed Uhuru, first appointing him to chair the Tourism Board and later nominated him to Parliament after prevailing upon one of his lieutenants, Mark Too, to resign. He would alter pick him for as party flag-bearer in the 2002 General Election.
Although Uhuru was then considered a political greenhorn, Moi defied protests from older Kanu members such as then VP George Saitoti, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Simeon Nyachae and Musalia Mudavadi who were eyeing the presidency.
In protest to Uhuru’s candidature, some Kanu politicians led by Raila joined forces with National Alliance of Kenya which comprised of opposition figures Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Ngilu to form the National Rainbow Coalition.
However, he lost to Kibaki but clinched the Gatundu South parliamentary seat while Gideon was elected the MP for Baringo Central.
In a surprise move, Uhuru, then the leader of opposition; opted not to contest in the 2007 presidential election but instead supported Kibaki.
A few months later, Gideon was crowned Kanu chair at Kasarani, taking over the mantle from his childhood friend.
However, Gideon lost his parliamentary seat in 2007 and spent five years in the cold, returning in 2013 as Baringo senator.
It was in the run up to the 2017 general elections that Uhuru-Gideon partnership became a little bit clearer.
Senator Moi’s supporters have often cited his cordial relationship with Uhuru as a sign of good things to come.
Last week, West Pokot senator Samuel Poghisio (Kanu) was appointed Leader of Majority replacing his Elgeyo-Marakwet counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen, an ally of Deputy President William Ruto.
In 2017, Gideon took a swipe at Ruto’s forays across the country saying: ““I pity some leaders, those who are already dancing themselves lame yet music has not started. The DJ is still testing the tunes,” he said during a tour of Homa Bay in 2018.
In an interview with a local TV station three months ago, former minister Joseph Nyaga echoed Mzee Moi’s sentiments saying Kanu will indeed rule for 100 years.
“Of the 100 years that Moi spoke about, 57 years now Kanu has been in control, directly or indirectly…” he said.
In an unexpected move, former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu declared that he had decamped to Kanu from Jubilee after making a surprise appearance at Moi’s Kabarak home in March where Gideon was hosting a delegation from Mt Kenya region.
“I want to let you know that I have not lost my way; I realised that the other path was not taking me anywhere,” said Waititu.
During the event, Senator Moi left no doubt where his heart is, urging Kenyans to give Uhuru time to deliver his mandate.
“If we don’t give the President space to do his work, we will all be in trouble. So, let us all protect and defend him,” he said.
Kanu secretary general Nick Salat said Kanu is on the path of revival, adding that they are focused on winning the 2022 presidential election.
Meanwhile, former Chief Justice William Mutunga has warned Kenyans not to make a mistake of returning Kanu to power.
“Only 59 years of pain, tears, deaths, poverty, oppression, sweat, and suffering. Enough surely must be enough . We must deny them the other 41 years,” Mutunga said in a tweet.