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How Moi ignored his aides’ advice to pick Uhuru as successor

Monday December 19 2016


Kabarak University Chancellor Daniel Moi (left) has a word with Vice chancellor Jones Kaleli at the graduation ceremony in Nakuru on December 16, 2016.  

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An attempt by President Daniel arap Moi to reconcile Kanu rebels and Uhuru Kenyatta, his choice as successor, ended in disarray during a State House meeting.

Mr Kalonzo Musyoka writes in his autobiography about a flurry of meetings that took place as President Moi and Kanu hurtled towards defeat to Mr Mwai Kibaki’s Narc in the 2002 elections.

Mr Musyoka writes in his autobiography, Against All Odds, to be launched in Nairobi on Wednesday, that the meeting took place on Moi Day, October 10, 2002.

It was attended by Mr Raila Odinga, Prof George Saitoti, Mr Moody Awori, Mr Kenyatta, Mr Nicholas Biwott and Mr Yusuf Haji.


At the meeting, the rebels told Moi to his face that unless Uhuru withdrew from the succession race, Kanu was going to lose.


According to Mr Musyoka, President Moi retorted: “It is not Uhuru, it is me you people have turned against.”

Mr Musyoka responded: “Then Mzee, if it is you, may I request that with all due respect and for the sake of us all and your party that you withdraw from this thing and allow the delegates at Kasarani to choose.” That was the end of the discussion.

The meeting took place as the party prepared for its conference at Kasarani that endorsed Uhuru for President.


Mr Musyoka says that was the last meeting with President Moi and from that point on, the rebels knew that they were on their own.

“They had even begun changing the names of delegates from our home districts. We knew they were going to throw us out of the party.”

From the State House meeting, he writes, the rebels went straight to Serena Hotel where they addressed the press to state their stand.

“We were worried that the Presidential Press Service through its head, Lee Njiru, might be mischievous and announce to all of Kenya that we had all withdrawn our candidature in favour of Uhuru,” the book says.

Mr Odinga, who was on his way to a funeral in Nyanza was not at Serena.

However, he reiterated the rebels’ position at the funeral.

Besides shedding light on the political intrigues, Mr Musyoka’s book also gives readers an inside view of President Moi’s State House in Nairobi and his Kabarak home in Nakuru where the President held many meetings with elders from various communities around Nairobi.


"The meetings took place at his Kabarak farm in Nakuru. First, he called Luo elders to meet with Kalenjin elders.

"Then in came Luhya elders and Kalenjin elders and finally Kamba elders, led by Mulu (Mutisya).

"Moi invited me to attend all these occasions. He would also invite other people such as Dr Bonaya Godana.

"He never invited Uhuru Kenyatta to these meetings; at least not the ones I attended. The Kalenjin elders vigorously resisted Moi’s de­sire to give them a Kikuyu candidate”.

During the meeting with elders from western Kenya, Mr J.D. Otiende, who served in the first Cabinet after Kenya’s independence, led the talks.

"They assumed that their son, Musalia Mudavadi, would succeed Moi and of course they were wrong.


"If anything, Musalia was to be embarrassed by being offered the vice-presidency at the wrong time.

"I went back to Kabarak, this time with Kamba elders. We thought it was going to work. We agreed that a smaller committee of Kamba and Kalenjin elders should meet."

However, President Moi dropped the bombshell shortly after by naming Uhuru his successor.

Mr Musyoka writes that towards the end of 2001, “we knew Moi was going to officially pick Uhuru. He was supposed to make the announcement after a trip to Namibia.

"But I think very powerful signals went to him. I think people like Biwott and Raila Odinga, who was then cooperating with Moi, cautioned him.

"Eventually on June 30, 2002, Moi made the announcement in Mt Elgon where he thoroughly humiliated Mudavadi.”

Mr Musyoka says he was summoned to State House where President Moi told him that the decision was final.

Efforts by Mr Mulu Mutisya to put in a word for Mr Musyoka were dismissed.

At one of those meetings, he quotes Moi telling him: “You know Stephen, I have been thinking over this issue.

"Don’t bother bringing Mzee Mulu Mutisya and Kamba elders to meet Kalenjin elders, because the Kalenjin elders have decided to support Uhuru Kenyatta.”

Mr Musyoka says he maintained that he would go all the way to the delegates conference and only submit if he lost, to which President Moi told him: “No problem but know that if I come to your constituency, I will have to shambulia wewe (take a swipe at you).”