The day Moi confessed that he supported Saitoti for presidency
Mzee Daniel Arap Moi was part of a delegation of leaders who visited Professor George Saitoti’s family when the then Cabinet Minister perished in a plane crash.
Saitoti was Moi second-in-command for 13 years making him the longest serving vice president in Moi 24-year reign.
While eulogising professor George Saitoti as a diligent leader who valued peace, the retired president revealed that he had thrown his weight behind his former deputy in the race to State House.
“I was trying to help him. From Rift Valley you heard him fight for the presidency of Kenya. So we have been talking together all the time.” Moi said
“I would have had no problem supporting him, yes.” Joseph Kamotho, the late Cabinet Minister said.
But Moi’s statement immediately rekindled memories of the acrimonious fallout with Professor George Saitoti in 2002 at the height of the search for his successor from within KANU.
At the time Professor George Saitoti was seen as a clear favourite having served as Moi’s loyal deputy for 13 years
“Huyu Makamu wa Rais ni rafiki, lakini urafiki ni tofauti” Moi added.
Moi then proceeded to hand pick Uhuru Kenyatta, then a political green horn as his preferred successor.
“Yule ambaye anaweza kuendesha wananchi kama vile mimi ningependelea wananchi kuongozwa ni Uhuru Kenyatta” Moi continued.
During the KANU-NDP merger at the Kasarani gymnasium, Moi publicly differed with his then deputy prompting Professor Saitoti to make a statement that has remained synonymous with his legacy.
“They come a time when the nation is more important than an individual” Saitoti said.
While Moi’s friendship with his vice president of 13 years was not in doubt, it is the revelation that he was supporting Saitoti’s presidential bid that may raise questions
“There is no demonstrable evidence, there is no point of conversion from the Moi of 2001 in Kasarani to the Moi who is now consoling the family of Professor Saitoti .” Professor Kithure Kindiki, a political commentator said.
From 1997 to 1999, Moi had ruled the country without a substantive deputy even though Saitoti who occupied the slot between 1989 and 1997 was still an elected member of parliament and a cabinet minister and therefore eligible for the country’s second top job.
Moi later picked Saitoti for the job casually, at a road side meeting in Limuru after intense pressure to appoint a deputy.
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