If there are two people Kenyan politicians must not mess with, it is the former President Daniel Arap Moi, and Mama Ngina, wife of founding father Jomo Kenyatta and mother of incumbent President Uhuru.
Apart from their overarching dominance in many spheres of life, these two iconic personalities also have the resources and wherewithal to make or break political careers.
Just look at those who abandoned Moi’s cabinet in a huff in 2002 for the budding Rainbow Coalition: Raila Odinga, Simeon Nyachae, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moody Awori. They all had presidential ambitions but by throwing epithets at the president as they dashed to the popular movement their political future was shattered.
Every time they chanted the demeaning song, Yote Yawezekana bila Moi (All is possible without Moi), the KANU leader was paying attention and quietly working to finish them.
Also in the same category was Martha Karua, the one time presidential candidate who walked out of Moi’s meeting in a dramatic show of arrogance and defiance in June 2001. If you saw Moi’s facial expression on that day you would know he was not amused by Karua’s theatrics.
Then the Moi “students” – the Youth for Kanu ’92 stalwarts: William Ruto, Kipruto Kirwa, and Cyrus Jirongo. They were discovered by Moi, nurtured by Moi and enriched by Moi. After coming of age they grew wings and abandoned the “professor of politics.”
They may be wealthy now but since they left Moi’s crib, they have only made baby steps towards their goal of reaching the top.
Jirongo has reached the pinnacle of his political career and Ruto’s presidential ambition has virtually collapsed, thanks to Moi’s divide and rule strategy. Kirwa is just now resuscitating himself after ten years in the cold, his confidence battered, his political future blurred.
The career of Paul Muite, a one time presidential candidate and a fiery politician, would have taken a different trajectory had he not been so fiercely and publicly critical of Uhuru and the Kenyatta family. His career ended abruptly and he was forced back to his legal profession. The same fate befell former MPs and presidential candidates Charity Ngilu and Koigi wa Wamwere.
In November last year, Karua repeated the same mistake he made 16 years ago by walking out of Uhuru’s meeting in an outraged fury while flashing a two-finger salute of his NARC party.
With that brazen display of bravado her presidential ambition was extinguished and her bid for the governorship of Kirinyaga became moribund. The Kenyattas would not allow her to win. Moreover, one of her opponents is Uhuru’s close confidante former Devolution Minister Anne Waiguru. Unless Waiguru quits or is disqualified Karua has no chance.
When Moi chose Uhuru to replace him he did so for a number of reasons. One, he wanted someone who could shield him from possible criminal charges over a myriad issues. Two, he wanted someone he could manipulate. And three, he wanted someone who could protect the Moi name and preserve his legacy.
So far, Uhuru has done well to meet Moi’s expectations.
The recent meetings between Moi and Mama Ngina and between Moi and Uhuru were not accidental. They were strategic and a show of familial might. The aftermath of those meetings will reverberate for a long time to come.
Now, here is my prediction: Uhuru will be the president after August 8. That does not mean he will have won fairly at the ballot box.
The opposition will lose because Mzee Moi and Mama Ngina will not allow them to win.
William Ruto, on the other hand, will continue as deputy president but he will have a diminished role in the second Jubilee Administration.
Conversely, Moi’s son, Gideon, will be rewarded with a powerful position in the Cabinet and his popularity will soar.
He will be what G. G. Kariuki was to Moi and Chris Murungaru to Kibaki. He will be “president-in-waiting.” He will understudy the incumbent. Thereafter, his path to State House will be unstoppable as the Kalenjin nation will rally behind him.
How about Ruto? I predict the amiable politician will be a lame-duck deputy president, his influence will dwindle and eventually the man will be vanquished. Five and half years from now his name will not be on the presidential ballot.
Like a bull elephant, Moi does not forget. All those splenetic politicians who bad-mouthed him while he was at the helm will pay for their sin one way or another as long as the former president is around.
Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of ‘Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator‘, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.
The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.
Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’ is also now on sale.
Joe’s latest book is ‘The Wretched Africans: A Study of Rabai and Freretown Slave Settlements‘ which has recently been published and is now available to purchase.