How Moi survived two terms post-democracy

How Moi survived two terms post-democracy

The advent of multiparty politics is  one that threw President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi into uncharted political waters.

His move to repeal section 2A of the Constitution, owing to international pressure put President Moi, a man who had survived a coup just seven years earlier on a warpath once again.

Here, the towering ‘rungu’ wielding man risked not only losing his seat but also the public humiliation that other fallen African Heads of State had faced.

Narc leader Martha Karua reminisced how the Moi government never recognized the opposition even after the Constitution was changed.

“One good trait about Moi was that when agitation reached its peak, he would listen to the people and change direction. In December 1991, Kanu sycophants were still saying that the country should not go into multiparty but Moi read the signs of the time and told his Kanu delegates that it was time, and we must change the country into a multiparty,” said Karua.

Facing this predicament, the self-proclaimed professor of politics saw no other option but to turn to the youth leading to the formation of the famed Youth for KANU YK 92 wing to enable him extend his stay at the house on the hill.

This team led by Cyrus Jirongo, other young millionaires and children of prominent families was tasked with the operation to make sure that Moi won the 1992 elections.

Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo (left) and Deputy President William Ruto (right) PHOTO/COURTESY

It was this team that completely disrupted campaigns as they were then understood, spraying wads of the Ksh.500 notes famously known as ‘Jirongos’ and holding the flashiest campaigns.

”They were a blessing to President Moi,” then Statehouse comptroller Franklin Bett said of the political wing.

YK92 also thrust into the limelight Cyrus Jirongo who was hitherto unknown and who described the current Deputy President William Ruto in the outfit as a mere ”mtu wa mkono.”

Despite other factors including a fragmented opposition, YK 92, pundits argue, was the ace up Moi’s sleeve that won him the presidency in a hotly contested race.

The group was however disbanded in unclear circumstances leaving some of its members in utter disgrace, Moi on the other hand got to live another day.

In 1997, President Moi is reported to have pulled another trick out of the bag, bringing Raila Odinga, the man who under his reign was arrested, jailed and tortured on several occasions into the fold.

Moi’s KANU and Odinga’s National Development Party(NDP) got into a merger in a move that left the country in shock. ”DP and KANU merged and became what was known as the new Kanu, and I was made Sec General,” Raila Odinga said.

This new deal also occasioned changes in the Moi cabinet with Raila Odinga becoming the Minister for Energy while Uhuru Kenyatta was appointed to the politically influential post of Minister for Local Governments.

Kenyatta was nominated to parliament in 1997 after losing the Gatundu South seat to Moses Mwihia who through sheer cunning faked his assassination with public opinion naming the former as a suspect.

Having served two five-year terms after repealing section 2A, Moi named Uhuru as his successor, once again springing a split on the KANU old guard.

It was this announcement and the announcement and that making Uhuru KANU vice president that led George Saitoti, who thought himself to be a possible successor to say the famous words ”there comes a time when the nation is more important than an individual.”

In 2002, Moi hanged his boots, handing over power to Mwai Kibaki.

Even though the swearing in ceremony was chaotic and humiliating for him, he still retired a statesman.

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Story By Duncan Mutwiri
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