A meeting between retired President Daniel Moi and Mama Ngina Kenyatta last weekend has set tongues wagging that Kanu could be planning to back President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election bid.
The deal is said to have been sealed during the rare meeting, held at the retired president’s Kabarak home in Nakuru last Saturday.
But this Saturday, Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat, while declining to confirm or deny the latest developments, warned his chairman Gideon Moi against pushing the party into supporting Jubilee, saying the best option for the independence party was to join the National Super Alliance (Nasa).
“This is about Kanu’s growth and I do not see any growth in Jubilee. It is like taking Kanu to the slaughterhouse. Our chances of growing lie outside Jubilee. The whole country is looking for an alternative to Jubilee and that alternative is Nasa,” Mr Salat stated.
Mr Salat has on more than two occasions committed the independence party to supporting a joint opposition candidate but details from the Kabarak meeting reveal that the retired president agreed to prevail upon the Kanu leadership to back President Kenyatta.
The party’s national chairman Gideon Moi has been blowing both hot and cold on the question of which coalition to back during this year’s election, with pundits suggesting that he may join forces with Nasa thanks to his long running political supremacy battle with Deputy President William Ruto for control of the populous Rift Valley vote.
During Kanu’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held on January 19, the party mandated the younger Moi to negotiate with Jubilee and opposition leaders and report on the most viable alliance ahead of the August 8 polls.
“As at now we do not have a preferred candidate, but in about two weeks, we will meet again for me to give a report on who to support,” Mr Moi announced after the NEC meeting.
Sources told theSunday Nation that at the centre of the proposed Kanu-Jubilee alliance is that the ruling coalition does not field a candidate against Mr Moi during the election in exchange for his support for Mr Kenyatta’s re-election.
Such an arrangement would ensure Mr Moi has all the time to campaign for Mr Kenyatta’s re-election without the distraction of fighting off the Jubilee onslaught in Baringo where Mr Ruto enjoys significant influence.
Kanu is expected to officially make the announcement to support Jubilee any time next week.
The new re-alignment brokered by the retired president and Mama Ngina is, however, set to present President Kenyatta with a new headache of balancing the conflicting political ambitions of the Kanu chairman and Mr Ruto.
Mr Moi is said to harbour ambitions of running for the presidency in 2022, which puts him on a collision course with Mr Ruto who has publicly stated his ambition to succeed Mr Kenyatta.
Political analyst Prof Macharia Munene believes it is not a surprise that Kanu will be backing Mr Kenyatta.
“Jubilee is in itself like a splinter group of Kanu and vice versa. And because retired president Moi is Kanu and Kanu is Moi, the party will without a doubt work with Uhuru. Do not forget Uhuru is a Moi project and so you would be naive to expect him to abandon his project now,” the don said.
Following last weekend’s meeting between the retired president and Mama Ngina, pressure has been immense on the younger Moi to support Mr Kenyatta.
Late last year during the Senate debate on the controversial amendments to the electoral laws, the Baringo senator shocked many when he voted alongside Jubilee senators even after dismissing them during his contribution to the debate.
The Opposition had been counting on Mr Moi and other Kanu senators – West Pokot’s John Lonyangapuo and Zipporah Kittony – to vote against the amendments.
It is said that it took a call from President Kenyatta himself to have Mr Moi support the amendments.
Commenting on the pending big announcement, Ms Kittony who headed Maendeleo ya Wanawake, a pseudo-political giant movement during the Kanu regime asked their supporters to wait for the big day.
“I do not want to pre-empt it,’ she said.
Ms Kitony is a fierce Moi loyalist who owes her nomination to the Senate to the retired President.
At the height of the protests against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in May, last year, it fell upon Ms Kitony to distance Kanu from the Opposition’s push to have the commissioners leave office, saying that Mr Salat’s decision to join the demonstrations was personal.This would not be the last time she is ‘setting the record straight’ on Mr Salat who early this month declared that Kanu would back Nasa.
“I want to tell you that as Kanu tuko ndani kabisa, ndani. Ndani kabisa (Kanu is firmly part of the Opposition movement),” Mr Salat told the Bomas of Kenya convention where the Opposition movement was born.
Together with Mr Lonyangapuo, Ms Kitony again disowned Mr Salat’s sentiments.
But some observers argue that by declaring Kanu’s support for Nasa, Mr Salat was simply doing Mr Moi’s bidding to raise the stakes for negotiations with Jubilee.
“Salat is Gideon Moi’s errand boy and would not make statements with such huge ramifications without his blessings. He uses him to voice things he cannot say himself, that is politics,” Mr Tom Mboya from Maseno University argues.
Another Kanu insider confided to us that Kanu’s game plan is to cavort with both Jubilee and Nasa, so that it is able to negotiate a post-election pact with whoever emerges the winner in the 2017 polls.