17 November 2018

Kenya: Succession Politics - Will Moi Declare 'Kalonzo Tosha' After Kabarak Visit?

The revolving door to retired President Daniel arap Moi's Kabarak home continues to pull surprises as it receives political bigwigs seeking to pay homage to the country's second president.

The latest politician to go through the doors was Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who visited his political mentor and the man he also served as Cabinet minister at the height of the Kanu rule.

Political observers believe there is more than meets the eye in the trend of top politicians visiting Kenya's second and longest-serving president. It was President Moi who, in 2002, picked Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, then a political novice, as his successor and it would appear that the man who once described himself as a "professor of politics" is likely to have a hand in the Uhuru succession, which is about four years away.

When Mr Mwai Kibaki defeated the young Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Kiraitu Murungi, who served as Justice minister in the first Kibaki administration, told the retiring President to retreat to his Kabarak home and watch TV to see what governance was all about.


Today, Kabarak is turning out to be the theatre where the future of Kenya post-Uhuru Kenyatta is being shaped.

The home has become particularly important since the March 9 handshake between President Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga.

Among those who have trooped there to consult Mzee Moi are President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga and his ODM deputy party leader Hassan Joho, Cotu boss Francis Atwoli and Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, both seen as influential leaders in western Kenya.

Mr Joho, on the other hand, is one of the senior politicians from the Coast region. However, when Deputy President William Ruto went to see the retired president, he was stopped at the gate. According to Senator Gideon Moi, the retired president was seeing his physiotherapist when Mr Ruto showed up "unannounced".

The snub was seen as a slap in the face for the Deputy President, who has left no doubt that he intends to be on the ballot during the 2022 presidential election.


Mr Gideon Moi has also shown presidential ambitions. When he represented his father at the funeral of Mr Musyoka's father last Friday, he told mourners he would be back, ostensibly to ask for their support ahead of the 2022 poll. He also asked voters in the region to allow their political leaders to work with him.

At the same meeting, Mr Musyoka said he was ready to work with President Kenyatta and within the week was appointed special envoy.

Friday, Mr Musyoka, who served as vice president under President Kibaki and as minister under President Moi, led a team of Ukambani leaders among them his son Kennedy, who is an MP in the East African Legislative Assembly, and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr to Kabarak where they were welcomed by Senator Moi. Others in the meeting were Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi, Kitui senator Enock Wambua and Tiaty MP William Kamket.


Whereas the two leaders are said to have discussed Mr Musyoka's new role as the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for South Sudan, the underlying political overtones of the meeting could not be ignored.

In a press statement issued by the office of the retired President, Mr Moi said it was important for young leaders to forge unity among Kenyans even during the most difficult of times.

"Young leaders should strive to be united in their service to the public," said Mr Moi.

He challenged the leaders to unite the country and be honest in their leadership and forge friendship rather than disunity because the future of the country was in their hands.

"Some of you will be presidents and ministers in charge of the country. You need to take time and know the whole country and develop friendship," he said.


According to a source in Wiper party, the visit had been in the works for several months.

Senator Wambua and his Baringo counterpart were involved in planning the visit, initially slated for September.

The meeting was then moved to December but a quick date for this month was fixed after Mzee Moi received news of the passing of Mr Musyoka's father, Musyoka Mairu.

Mr Wambua said the retired president requested Gideon to organise an urgent meeting with Mr Musyoka.

"The new date was fixed at the insistence of Mzee Moi himself," he said.

The younger Moi has attended at least three public meetings in Kitui this year alone. He appears keen to forge a political alliance with the Wiper leader who was Mr Odinga's running mate in the last two elections.

At some point, Tiaty MP William Kamket, a close confidant of Mr Moi, suggested that the retired president had instructed the leadership of Kanu to reach out to Mr Musyoka for coalition talks.


But it is the symbolism of the visit that is most curious, indicating that the 2022 succession politics is playing out already.

This is particularly important considering that Deputy President William Ruto who, like Mr Musyoka, considers the retired president as a mentor has been blocked from accessing the increasingly important home or even seeing the old man.

Mr Ruto's visit came after Mr Odinga, his political rival, had visited the home and was allowed to meet the former president. Soon after, Mr Joho visited was welcomed to Kabarak. Just three weeks ago, Cotu boss Atwoli was at the home in the company of Mr Wamalwa.

While the decision to block the DP angered his allies who interpreted it as a scheme to block Mr Ruto from taking over from President Kenyatta, the constant visits by political heavyweights leave no doubt that something is afoot.


National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale has in the past told Senator Moi to stop using his father "as a political museum" to attract political support. Another of the senator's counterparts has accused Gideon of approving the visits the same way Panadol is administered in doses.

"Gideon has heavily relied on the former president to marshal political support for his 2022 presidential ambition," Mr Duale said.

The Wiper party Friday wholly supported the visit, saying it was part of the effort to bring the country together after last year's polarising general election.

"The party gave him full mandate to reach out to everybody and everyone. Meeting the former president is the fulfilment of this mandate," acting secretary-general Peter Mathuki said. "It's all about putting Kenya first and to make Kenya peaceful."


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