Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s visit to retired President Daniel Moi has sparked off heated debate in the Rift Valley on whether the tours were part of a wider plan to isolate Deputy President William Ruto in the succession race.
Virtually every major contender in the 2022 presidential race has visited Mr Moi — considered in his heyday a professor of politics — to seek his blessings, but a similar attempt by Mr Ruto in May was thwarted.
Mr Musyoka, who was recently named President Kenyatta’s special peace envoy for South Sudan, was at Mr Moi’s home in Kabarak on Friday with several Wiper lawmakers in tow.
Others who have visited the retired leader include President Kenyatta, his mother Mama Ngina, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Cotu boss Francis Atwoli, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.
Jubilee leaders are, however, wondering why the DP is the only one who has not been allowed to see the former President.
Mr Moi's son Gideon, who is also the Baringo Senator, and Mr Ruto have been involved in a protracted battle of supremacy for the control of Rift Valley ahead of the 2022.
And while the DP has a clear advantage over the younger Moi in the ‘sibling rivalry’ owing to his high office, personal charisma and nationwide networks, his allies do not want to take chances on a possible alliance-building at their leader’s expense.
Jubilee leaders who spoke to the Nation yesterday were categorical that the Kabarak tours were a well-calculated plan to isolate the DP.
“Any visit to an elder shouldn’t be restricted, but I want to assure that their plans will not work as the 2022 race is already decided. The DP will win with resounding approval by Kenyans," Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said.
Soy MP Caleb Kositany said he and his colleagues, on Mr Ruto's side, have a request that has been pending for several months and once it goes through they will visit the 94-year-old leader.
“These visits are clearly political, but politics which are not headed anywhere. It seems the son (Gideon) feels we don’t support him hence we should not meet the Mzee (Mr Moi)," said Mr Kositany, a close ally of the DP.
The MP said even though they have requested to visit under the auspices of the Rift Valley Senators and MPs Parliamentary Group chaired by Mr Kipchumba Murkomen, they will insist on going with Mr Ruto.
But Moiben MP Silas Tiren, who has had unlimited access to Kabarak thanks to his close association with Senator Moi, said the visits should not be politicised.
"Looking at his (Mr Moi) statement he wants Kenyans to remain united. He wants those seeking leadership positions not use force. Mzee is happy seeing leaders reaching out to each other,” said Mr Tiren, whose constituency is in Mr Ruto’s Uasin Gishu turf.
He said if Mr Ruto used the right protocol he was sure he won’t be denied access.
“This is a person serving in high office and you should use the normal protocol. This is an elder approaching 100 years. When you reach there and he is not in a position to see you, people should not politicise this," Mr Tiren said, referring to Mr Ruto's attempted visit in May.
Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat told the Nation that the former President will have a bigger say in shaping the succession politics in the country ahead of the 2022 General Election.
Mr Salat claimed: "With his abrasive nature, Mr Ruto has tried to build a demigod image of himself in Rift Valley in a manner that democracy has been stifled and he has his way in anything and everything.”
He further said the DP had shown open disdain towards other leaders and sneers at them instead of consulting them adding that in the bigger scheme of things, he had isolated himself from the people who should be his pillars and foot soldiers.
Mr Moi's handlers in May said that he could not meet Mr Ruto then as he was undergoing a routine physiotherapy session with his doctors for the entire duration of the visit.
Though Senator Moi has not publicly declared that he will vie for the presidency, it is widely believed that Kanu will enter into an alliance with like-minded parties in 2022.
His allies such as Tiaty MP William Kamket have, however, been hinting at the Kanu chairman going for the top seat.