Former Head of Civil Service recounts the intrigues of the Moi Cabinet.
Former Head of Civil Service Sally Kosgei has revealed how President Daniel arap Moi used back channels to tame foreign diplomats critical of his administration.
Dr Kosgei recounted how the former president deftly navigated crises that had others in panic as she lifted the lid on some of the secrets of the Kanu government.
Speaking yesterday during Moi’s burial service at his Kabarak home, Kosgei recounted a number of incidents when Moi employed discreet tactics to deal with issues that would affect his government.
Giving the inside story of Moi’s government in public for the first time, Kosgei said Moi had a hand in the recalling of the US ambassador to Kenya six months before the election since he was “always meddling in the politics of the country”.
“I’m sure many people are not aware that the former president had to engage Washington behind the scenes and the ambassador was recalled,” she said.
In another incident, Kosgei said that Moi wrote a protest letter to the German chancellor over a diplomat who also appeared not apolitical.
“I can say many things about the former president, having worked with him for a long time, but I can specifically point out some instances when he showed his firmness and high regard for discipline,” he said.
Recalling an incident that happened in London, Kosgei said one of the Cabinet ministers was sacked when he turned up late for a dinner hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in honour of the Kenyan delegation.
“The former President was very upset and after the incident, those of us in Government started speculating that the said minister was in hot soup. When election came, he was never reappointed to Cabinet,” she said.
Kosgei said during Moi’s reign, no Cabinet secrets could leak since ministers embraced the doctrine of a united team.
“Leaking government secrets or Cabinet deliberations were taboo. No one was allowed to discuss confidential issues. That is why the Cabinet spoke in one voice,” she said.
Kosgei said Moi was always calm even during challenging times.
“There was a time when I called the president about American planes heading to Somalia, which were set to land in Nairobi without clearance from the military. It was really frightening, but the president was very calm; he told me to let the planes land,” she recalled.
During the infamous tribal clashes in Maela in Narok County in 1992, Kosgei recollected, she approached the president to have the military intervene “since the clashes had run out of hand and it appeared police were not in a position to deal with it”.
“Moi laughed and asked if I knew when military intervention is required. Within a day, police had quelled the clashes,” Kosgei told mourners.
Describing Moi as one of the African great leaders, Kosgei revealed that the former president was highly revered across the globe with most presidents always consulting him.
“Being an ambassador, I would always meet leaders who would tell me that Kenya was lucky to have a very polite president. Indeed, he was such a unifying figure that he managed to hold the country together,” said Kosgei.