KANU INTRIGUES

I felt let down by Moi in 2002 but moved on, says Mudavadi

President Moi later dropped the bombshell by naming Uhuru as his successor.

In Summary

• “If you are not offered an opportunity to fairly compete, you feel let down and disappointed. That is normal but you have to move on,” Mudavadi said.

• This feeling of disappointment over the manner in which Kanu nominations were done, Mudavadi said, resulted in the rapid breakdown of Kanu.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during an interview with the Star.
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during an interview with the Star.
Image: FILE

At the 2002 Kanu national delegates conference in Kasarani, top Kanu stalwarts hoped President Daniel Moi would endorse one of them as his successor.

This was the culmination of the succession battle within Kanu, as the ruling party sought to reorganise itself ahead of the 2002 General Election.

The potential candidates, so they thought, had traversed the country convincing delegates to back them. But Moi had different plans as a list had already been prepared, without Vice President George Saitoti’s name.

Four Kanu vice president positions had been created and the candidates listed — Musalia Mudavadi (Western), Katana Ngala (Coast), Uhuru Kenyatta (Central) and Kalonzo Musyoka (Eastern).

President Moi later dropped the bombshell by naming Uhuru as his successor.

Among those who felt shortchanged were Raila Odinga, who had joined Kanu from NDP and became the secretary general, Musalia Mudavadi, Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka and JJ Kamotho, among others. They walked out of Kanu, other than Mudavadi.

Uhuru then, 41, was a greenhorn compared to the Kanu stalwarts, only having been nominated to Parliament after the 1997 elections, and being appointed to the Cabinet.

By this time, Musalia Mudavadi, Uhuru’s age mate, had been an elected MP since 1989 (aged 29), served in various Cabinet dockets — Supplies and Marketing, Agriculture, Finance and Transport — and Vice President. He was, however, overlooked by Moi and only named Uhuru’s running mate in the 2002 General Election.

How did this make him feel?

In an interview with the Star on Monday, the shortest-serving Vice President said he felt let down.

“If you are not offered an opportunity to fairly compete, you feel let down and disappointed. That is normal but you have to move on,” Mudavadi said.

This feeling of disappointment over the manner in which Kanu nominations were done, Mudavadi said, resulted in the rapid breakdown of Kanu.

The walkout of the Kanu heavyweights strengthened the opposition coalition that became the Narc, leading to Mwai Kibaki’s landslide win.

The Narc wave also claimed Mudavadi’s Sabatia seat. After losing his parliamentary seat, Kanu nominated him to Parliament. He, however, declined.

He writes in his book Soaring Above The Storms Of Passion “I have great respect for the people of Sabatia who decided to give me a sabbatical. I am a democrat. I cannot go against their decision by sneaking into Parliament through the back door.”

Mudavadi also said that when they asked Moi if they could accompany him to handover to Kibaki at Uhuru Park, he insisted on doing it alone.

“He was shouted at, as the crowd sang 'Yote ya Wezekana Bila Moi', but he braved all that,” Mudavadi said.

LESSONS FROM MOI

Among the lessons he took from Moi include humility, which he says “has been relegated in the current political leadership in how they serve the people”.

"I also learnt how to manage your ambitions, not to get to a reckless point. Moi used to say that even if you are the strongest bull, you can’t serve all the heifers,” Mudavadi said.

“He also told us that you might buy your golden bed but you won’t have a golden sleep”.

In an apparent reference to Deputy President William Ruto, he also noted that Moi warned politicians against using his name in harambees for their political mirage.

When on July 1, 2018, Ruto donated Sh5 million in Embu, he said it was a joint effort with President Uhuru Kenyatta.