Baringo Senator Gideon Moi wants to be president in 2022, but is he demonstrating readiness to gun for the top job? Not yet, and here’s why.
The younger Moi leads Kenya’s oldest political party and the most electorally successful. It has held power for 40 of the country’s 55 years of independence. Formidable, pervasive and a juggernaut for the 24-year-long reign of his father Daniel Toroitich, Kanu is now a poor imitation of its former self.
For 40-odd years the majority parliamentary party, Kanu now has eight MPs in a National Assembly of 290 elected representatives and two senators in a 47-member elected chamber. Only one of Kenya's 47 governors is Kanu’s.
And, of the 20 parties represented in the National Assembly, it ranks sixth numerically.
In the last Parliament, it had six MPs, no Woman Rep and two senators. Kanu won one governorship. Little wonder. Organisationally, the party has not had a recruitment drive since it lost power in 2002. It has not held elections of repute from the grassroots or at the national level since 2005. And Kanu has not announced plans for structural or policy modernisation since Mr Moi took over from a certain Uhuru Kenyatta who decamped in 2012.
Mr Kenyatta abandoned the party whose chairman he was and which made his father founding president. Why? To reinvent himself to be elected president. This should have served as an urgent call to action for Mr Moi.
But, the following year as chairman he failed to capitalise on Kenya’s Golden Jubilee and Kanu’s 53rd anniversary to celebrate, reflect and embark on rejuvenating the party. He would have declared, and stamped, his arrival on the scene then by presenting his vision for party and country. Now, this iconic memory is fading fast: At the height of its power, Kanu had a vibrant countrywide network that exploded into frenetic action at the drop of a hat.
From its branches came the loyal, loud and proud party stalwarts and grandees adorned in black, red and green. The branches were the arteries that pumped life into Kanu’s heart, the high command at KICC. Not anymore. Kanu has stagnated; no longer a winner, no longer a big-tent party, no longer a big-league player. Which is why the young Moi needs to present Kenyans with the ideas and values that will define him and Kanu.
It is these that Kanu will translate into a campaign platform and which would form the policy blueprint if it formed the government.
In the absence of such clarity, Mr Moi is defined chiefly by his sneering and jeering rival, the beleaguered Deputy President William Ruto, the media and pundits. So the dogfight between he and Dr Ruto is portrayed in media as a duel for the Kalenjin vote. And from 2016, Dr Ruto has mocked and characterised Mr Moi as wanting the top job just because his father was president.
Moi the younger needs credentials of his own. Media and pundits too define him as former President Moi’s favourite son who wants to emulate dad.
But the Senate, his workplace, is not portrayed as an illustrious House nor Mr Moi as a standout performer.
Worse, opponents, often unchallenged, tie him to his father’s failures and to Kanu’s dictatorial past.
Thus Mr Moi has his work cut out to make and define himself as favourite presidential candidate with an agenda that sets him apart from the rest.
I do not ask the foregoing of only Mr Moi.
In the lead up to the last General Election I argued that National Super Alliance (Nasa) needed to differentiate itself from the governing Jubilee Party or there would be no reason for Kenyans to be asked to choose between them.
After its comprehensive defeat, I proffered that Nasa needed new leadership and new ideas in preparation for 2022 and beyond.
Conversely, Kanu needs to be rebuilt, given a new identity, and fresh rallying call by a new Moi imbued with fresh ideas and values for renewing Kenya.