FIMBO YA NYAYO

Moi named Gideon his successor before his death

Move signifies Gideon's readiness to take on Ruto in the fight to control Rift Valley politics.

In Summary

• The Ruto-Moi rivalry would further deteriorate their already broken ties

• Gideon said he is ready to lead the Kalenjin community from where Moi left

Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi next to President Uhuru Kenyatta's official vehicle in Kabarak on February 12, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi next to President Uhuru Kenyatta's official vehicle in Kabarak on February 12, 2020.
Image: DPPS

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi was yesterday handed his father's silver-tipped ivory rungu, a symbolic gesture that anointed him heir of the family's political throne.  

It was also a public declaration that the former President Daniel Moi had named his youngest son Gideon as his political successor. 

People familiar with the family told the Star yesterday that Moi had told his entire family, years before his death, that Gideon was his preferred successor.

 

He then started mentoring him and went out of his way hold the young Moi's hand as he cut his political teeth.

 

"It is the late Moi who pushed Gideon to join politics. The Senator was reluctant and had other ideas, but his father insisted that he must vie for a political seat and seek to lead Kanu.

"Even after Gideon got into politics, his father kept guiding him on which path to follow or which leaders to work with as he established himself. Everyone in the family knew," a source said.

Gideon's endorsement by the family could set the stage for a showdown with Deputy President William Ruto, as the battle for Rift Valley supremacy hits the crescendo.

Gideon was not, in accordance with the Kalenjin tradition, expected to bypass his elder brother the late Jonathan and the secondborn Raymond, to take over the mantle as Mzee Moi's heir.

 

But a decision by President Moi's larger Chepkeres family to hand over the Nyayo rungu to him confirmed Moi's decision. 

With Gideon given the mantle, the Moi family has dispelled the possibility of any divisions among his four sons over their father's political succession.

 
 

There have been speculations of disquiet in the family, especially over the inheritance of  Moi's multi-billion estate, as he appeared to favour Gideon.

What is known, albeit in hushed tones, is that Gideon was for a long time his father’s favourite, to the chagrin of his siblings, especially his elder brother, the late Jonathan.



Although news about the finer details of the Mois' squabbles was not in the limelight, snippets of information from well-placed sources told of a family at war with itself.

Yesterday Raymond, the Rongai MP who was initially handed the rungu by an elder from the Chepkeres family to head the Moi family, swiftly left no doubt who would be their next political light.

“In seniority, I am the leader of the family but for political leadership, I hand over to Gideon,” Raymond said during the brief ceremony at Kabarak. 

The rungu is a symbol of power, authority and depicts leadership.

 

Raymond challenged the Kanu chairman to revamp the party and position it for national political leadership.

 

“We tell Gideon that Kanu should rise up and be part of the next good things,” Raymond said, adding that the party will be firmly behind President Uhuru Kenyatta to create a better Kenya.

Already, Gideon's assumption of the reins of political leadership from his father has begun to muddy the waters in Rift Valley politics. 

Gideon's allusion that the baton was by extension a nod from the larger Kalenjin community, unsettled Ruto who looked perturbed by the unfolding events.

Gideon had said while accepting the rungu from Raymond: “Honestly, I didn't expect this. I will hold it and do my best. Thank you the Chepkeres and the Kalenjin community. I will try to hold you together.”

This remark signified Gideon's readiness to take on Ruto in the fight to control the Rift Valley politics ahead of the epic 2022 general election.

Since his exit from the scene, Moi who towered over the region's politics for decades, he has continued to hold massive influence in the region. 

At the funeral, Gideon appeared at ease, displaying his oratory skills and occasionally leaving mourners in stitches, key qualities of a formidable politician.

Ruto and Gideon have a frosty relationship that has been often highlighted by palpable tensions. Political analysts say the situation could only get worse.

Political analyst Felix Odhiambo told the Star that the handing over of the political mantle to Gideon will boost his ambitions for a higher political office.

“The handing over of the baton to Gideon was a significant political score for him. This is what he wanted so as to make a point. It now brings him out as Mzee's political successor and mystifies reports that he was not getting along with his siblings,” he said.



Ruto, who has previously had no kind words for the Moi family, once accused Gideon of using his father's sickness to settle political scores.

The DP was once blocked by Gideon from visiting then-ailing Moi at his Kabarak home, fuelling tensions between the two leaders.

The DP was also largely isolated during the burial preparations of the second president with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and Chief of General Staff Samson Mwathethe given leading roles.

At some point, while Ruto was driven to Lee Funeral Home on February 4, he was barred from viewing Moi's body in circumstances that sparked uproar from his allies who alleged mischief.

The DP's ties with Gideon have further been frozen with the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative campaigns in which the Kanu chairman is working closely with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The DP has cautiously welcomed the report but warned against what his allies have termed as a scheme by 'dynasties' to perpetuate their control of the country's political scene.

However, in a clue to Raila's quest to work with Gideon ahead of the 2022 polls, the opposition leader warned against dynasty politics being fanned by Ruto's allies.

“Gideon has a right like any other Kenyan. To vie for any position that he wants in this country,” Raila said. 

Raila said that the Kenyatta, Moi and Jaramogi families have a right just like any other Kenyan to seek a political opportunity and should not be mistaken with dynasty.

The former prime minister said the late President Moi managed to rise from a humble background to become the second president of Kenya.

“He (Moi) came from poverty, just like Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi. Nobody can talk about a dynasty when it comes to these three families,” Raila said in his tribute to Moi at Kabarak.

“What did Moi inherit? Moi struggled and died the way he has died. His children are also just struggling; they are Kenyans like anybody else,” he said. 

Firebrand trade unionists Francis Atwoli challenged Gideon to be ready for a bigger political task ahead.

“Stand up to protect the name of Mzee Moi. We are here to support you. We want to return that favour for you to lead us,” Atwoli said during Moi's funeral.

Tiaty MP William Kamket, a Gideon ally, said while Mzee Moi had left, Gideon will be able to fit into his political shoes.

“A giant tree that used to give so many people shade has fallen. But I am comforted that as the giant tree was ageing, a seedling from the same tree had been planted. 

“That seedling has blossomed and grown into a big tree that is going to give us that same shade and that tree is none other than Senator Gideon Moi,” Kamket told mourners.

The vocal Kanu MP recalled moments leading to the 2017 General Election in which he said the late President Moi summoned him to his home and asked him to tell Gideon to support Uhuru.

“After two days, Mzee called me again. I thought it was something else. He told me once again, ‘Do you remember what I told you?  Tell your friend to remain with Uhuru’,” he said. 

Kamket said that they are ready to lead Kanu back to its heyday.