The day Martha Karua walked out on Moi and shocked the nation

The day Martha Karua walked out on Moi and shocked the nation
File image of the late former President Daniel arap Moi. PHOTO| COURTESY

Narc-Kenya Party leader Martha Karua has described the late former President Daniel arap Moi, who died on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 as a man who had two faces.

“Moi had two faces; the face of a leader ruling with an iron fist and very unaccomodative but you meet him on a personal level, he was a totally different person; very sociable,” said Karua in a phone interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday.

The former Gichugu MP recounted an incident where she walked out on Moi during a Harambee at Moi Karugoya stadium in Kirinyaga following a disagreement.

It was on June 16, 2001 when Karua, who was at the time the Gichugu Member of Parliament, pulled the rare and quite audacious move despite the Moi regime being notoriously known for brutally and ruthlessly dealing with its critics.

Martha Karua says she could not stand the criticism and utterances that were being made by Moi supporters about the opposition, hence, her decision to get up and storm out of the presidential dias.

One of leaders at the event was quoted by the Daily Nation calling on Moi to be allowed to serve as President for life, while others disparaged the opposition saying they (opposition) do not know the value of independence.

“Whenever he went to public places where there would be leaders he never acknowledged the opposition which led to my walk out of his function in Kirinyaga when he denied me a chance to address the people and also rebut the unpalatable things his people were saying about the opposition and my then party leader retired President Mwai Kibaki,” said Karua.

“I was seated next to him. I approached him and told him he has to give me time to rebut what was being said because it is wrong and he just said that he wouldn’t say the things his people were saying but then he did not stop them nor did he give me a chance to speak.”

On whether it was disrespectful of her to get up and leave as the President was rising to address the crowd, Karua says her action was “a show of disagreement and defiance.”

“Respect is a two-way traffic. He (Moi) disrespected the opposition and myself who were present. It was a show of disagreement and defiance which the law entitled me to. I chose not to listen to him because they could not listen to me too. As a lawyer I knew I had the right to do so,” says Karua.

The Narc-Kenya party boss maintains that any leader should be held responsible for what is said or done their foot soldiers.

“Any leader, when you are in a meeting and your juniors do things you do not approve of you should come out publicly and say this is not the way. Whether it is intolerant or throwing others out of a meeting or name calling, any leader who sits while his troops do the name calling he is responsible,” added Karua.

The former Gichugu Member of Parliament, however, believes that there are good lessons to be learnt from Moi

“Everybody has a positive side. Whenever the country reached a boiling point Moi always tended to retreat and to give space for people to talk,” says Karua citing the times when Moi gave in to the push for multi-party democracy and when he peacefully handed over power in 2002.

In her message of condolence, following the passing of Moi, Karua said: “His greatest gift to Kenya’s nascent democracy was the peaceful handover of power after the 2002 elections, a tradition we must maintain.”

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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