How Moi plans to revive Kanu, take on Ruto in Rift Valley

Gideon was handed political leadership of the Moi family during his father's burial.

In Summary

• The decision to revive the party will rattle Deputy President William Ruto and his team considering that it has the potential to chip away Ruto’s support in Rift Valley.

• The political wars are likely to hit a fever-pitch with the coronation of Gideon, Moi's youngest son and Kanu chairman, as the heir of the family's political throne and presumptive kingpin of the Rift.

Deputy President William Ruto greets Baringo Senator Gideon Moi when he went to condole the family on February 4, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto greets Baringo Senator Gideon Moi when he went to condole the family on February 4, 2020.
Image: DPPS

Gideon Moi who was handed political leadership of the Moi family is planning to hit the road running with a series of events aimed at popularising his Kanu party.

The Baringo senator, according to party officials, will call a Kanu Executive Committee meeting next month where a raft of proposals aimed at reviving the independence party will be discussed.

Top on the list of things to do is how to wrestle the populous Rift Valley from Deputy President William Ruto.

 

The party will also lay plans that will see it start to aggressively prepare for the 2022 presidential elections. Moi is likely to be the party's presidential candidate because no one else has expressed or shown interest.

That decision to revive the party will rattle Deputy President William Ruto and his team considering that it has the potential to chip away Ruto’s support in Rift Valley.

“Although our party leader is still mourning is father, the party secretariat has began preparing for the NEC meeting which we hope to hold early next month,” said Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat.

Kanu also plans to recruit new members, fill vacant branch positions and hold national elections to fill all vacant positions by end of the year.

To further popularise the party, the party secretariat is putting together a series of events where its leadership led by Moi will address.

“Apart from BBI public rallies, our party leader will travel across the country to meet our members and to encourage them to revive the party. Kanu still has a lot of grassroots support which will build on,” Tiaty MP, a Kanu member and Moi’s close ally.   

The death of former President Daniel Moi has set the stage for a showdown between  Ruto and the Baringo Senator over the control of the vote-rich Rift Valley.

 

The political wars are likely to hit a fever-pitch with the coronation of Gideon, Moi's youngest son and Kanu chairman, as the heir of the family's political throne and presumptive kingpin of the Rift.

According to the 2019 census, Rift Valley region is the most populous region in the country with a total population of 12,752,966.

In the Rift Valley region, Turkana county had a population of 926,976, West Pokot 621,241, Samburu had 310,327, Trans Nzoia 990,341, Uasin Gichu had 1,163,186, while Elgeyo Marakwet had 454,480,

Other counties tallied as follow: Nandi(885,711), Baringo (666,763), Laikipia (518,560), Nakuru (2,162,202), Narok (1,157,873), Kajiado (1,117,840), Kericho (901,777) and Bomet (815,689).

Before the burial, Gideon received the ivory-tipped Nyayo rungu that his father always carried, a symbol of authority, power and force.

Politicians and analysts say Gideon's installation would be a blow to Ruto's efforts to consolidate his own support as the region's kingpin ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Former powerful Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett told the Star the game between Ruto and Gideon in the coming days would be "rough and messy”.

“There will be a rough game that will play out going forward. Ruto has a job here at home to do,” Bett said regarding Ruto's “fast-changing fortunes”.

Regarded as a liberal voice in Rift Valley, Bett insisted that the passing of the baton to Gideon would throw a spanner into Ruto's works.

“What happened on Wednesday [Moi's burial] was Ruto's undoing. He may behave like the proverbial ostrich and hide his head in the sand but the ground will be different,” Bett said.

The former influential Roads Minister during the Grand Coalition Government blamed Ruto for failing to unite Rift Valley leaders behind him and accommodate his fierce critics.

“Ruto should have taken initial steps to hold onto Gideon by bringing closer to him those politicians around the senator. But with the crowning of Gideon, Ruto has some work home,” Bett said.

But Soi MP Caleb Kositany, a close ally of Ruto, said Gideon's installation was a Moi family affair that portends no political significance.

“What happened was an internal family affair. As far as I am concerned, it was not a political coronation and therefore bears no political consequences,” the Jubilee deputy secretary general said.

Some Kalenjin elders said the handover of the ivory rungu could have been done after the burial rituals were completed and Mzee Moi laid to rest.

The timing of the coronation ceremony at a time when the whole world was watching perhaps signified the family's intention to send out the clearest political message.

“The ceremony could have been done after the burial according to the Kalenjin traditions and not during the day of the burial,” Bett said.

Moi's death, politicians and analysts say, will usher in an all-out regional succession war pitting Ruto against Gideon as the 2022 race takes shape.

Gideon will be pushing to step out of his father's shadow to successfully challenge successful challenge Ruto who has been seen as Rift Valley's political supremo, even in Moi's presence.

Even in his retirement, Moi cast a long shadow over the vast Rift Valley and the country's second president held massive political influence in the region and beyond.

However, his exit will escalate political tensions between his younger son and Ruto who are already in a no-holds-barred supremacy struggle.

Their fights could spill over onto the national stage as the two will take each other on in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.

Ruto, currently regarded as the King of the Rift Valley, has declared his presidential ambitions and has been traversing the country to shore up his support.

On the other hand, Gideon, who is the Baringo senator, is also said to be raring for a presidential stab having dropped his ambitions in 2013 and 2017 to support Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru, respectively.

With their huge political ambitions coupled with Gideon's effort to fit into his father's giant shoes, the stage is set for a major confrontation.

On Wednesday, University of Nairobi lecturer and political analyst Herman Manyara told the Star that while Gideon would have a herculean task to dislodge Ruto as the Rift Valley kingpin, he will give the DP a run for his money.

Manyara said with all the machinations to block Ruto from succeeding Uhuru, the Kalenjin nation will embrace Gideon once they see the DP's ambitions are untenable.

“I tell those underrating Gideon to be prepared for a surprise. Gideon only needs to assure the RiftValley that he is leading them to power and they will follow him,” he said.

Gideon is likely to latch onto the Building Bridges Initiate campaigns to launch an aggressive battle against Ruto to dislodge him as the Rift's kingpin.

The BBI is the product of the March 9, 2018, handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga but it has triggered a political wave likely to shape the 2022 politics.

Ruto has cautiously welcomed the crusade, but Gideon has joined hands with Uhuru and Raila to fortify the drive that seeks to alter the country's governance architecture, to the chagrin of the DP's camp.

The BBI proposals seek to introduce a prime minister appointed by the President but a popularisation campaign has seen politicians amplify the need for some kind of parliamentary system with a powerful PM and two deputies.

The pro-BBI team wants-regional governments — a third layer of government — created in what many critics say is a plot by regional governors and kingpins to award themselves political seats after their second terms expire.

Political players say the BBI battle would be the last straw that would break the camel's back between Ruto and Moi as it promises to radically alter the political architecture.

Tiaty MP William Kamket, a key Gideon ally, said the coronation of Gideon was the beginning of a political journey to liberate the Rift Valley from selfish politicians.

“The handover of the rungu was in order to let nobody try to play politics with that solemn ceremony. The senator is ready to take over the reins of power in this country,” he said.

Kamket, while admitting that the late Mzee has left big shoes to fill, said Gideon would step in to pursue the Nyayo philosophy.

“The writing is on the wall. Kanu is the future and Gideon is going to play a significant role,” he said.

Yesterday, Political analyst Felix Odhiambo told the Star that the country should be ready for "ferocious political fireworks" between Ruto and Gideon “in every bare-knuckle' sense.

“Gideon is likely to come out strong to protect Moi family image and political territory. He will most likely take on Ruto more assertively than he has been doing,” he said.

Odhiambo said Mzee Moi's presence — his deteriorating health notwithstanding —moften held back Gideon from heightening his war with Ruto.

“It will be a no-holds-barred political war,” Odhiambo said of what is expected of the Ruto-Gideon relationship in the coming years.

Ruto's sharp differences with Moi family started in 2005, when the DP declared his ambitions to vie for the presidency.

The rift saw the DP barred in April 2019 from visiting Mzee Moi at his Kabarak home while he was ailing.

After Moi's death, the DP was largely seen isolated as government officials among them Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and Chief of Staff Samson Mwathate took a lead role in planning the former President's funeral.

Seen as isolated in his own government, the DP was blocked from viewing Moi's body at the Lee funeral home shortly after the second President died on February 4.

These incidents, lift the lid on the crosscurrents playing out between Ruto and Gideon as they gird not only to succeed Danel Mi but also to succeed President Kenyatta.