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Why Mzee advocated for a single party State system

By Kamau Muthoni | February 12th 2020

Tribalism and negative ethnicity are the two main reasons why former President Daniel arap Moi opposed multi-partysm, his writings reveal.

According to his book Kenya African Nationalism: Nyayo Philosophy and Principles published in 1986, Moi thought that tribal animosity was a vice that could be fanned by multi-party politics.

On the eve of independence, almost every African country had more than one political party.   In Kenya, a number of parties had been formed to agitate for independence.

Among them were the Kenya African Union (KAU) which was formed in 1944 and the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) formed in 1924.  

KAU was led by Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta from 1947 up to 1953 when he was jailed for his involvement with Mau Mau freedom fighters.

KAU was later banned by the colonial rulers. The ban which was extended to all other political groups ran until 1960.

James Gichuru, who would become Kenya’s first Finance Minister revived KAU in 1960 and merged it with the Kenya Independence Movement which was led by Tom Mboya, and the National People’s Convention Party.

The merger bore the Kenya African National Union (Kanu).

President Moi in 1960 teamed up with Ronald Ngala to form the Kenya African Democratic Union (Kadu).

Kadu was meant to take care of the interests of minority groups. Kadu would fold in 1964 to join Kanu.

A fallout with President Kenyatta in 1966 saw vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga resign from his office and form the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) which became the first post-independence opposition party.

In Kenya African Nationalism: Nyayo Philosophy and Principles Moi observed that many parties in young African nations emerged as a result of tribal competition. These parties, Moi asserted, revolved around a situation where ethnic groups wanted to express their authority and identity in comparison to their peers.

He also noted that young nations, owing to their unsettled political cultures, were beset with teething socio-economic problems.  

“Kenya was no exception to the common African socio-economic syndrome. We were faced with inter-tribal and regional disparities in both infrastructure and in attained development,” Moi noted.

 “In Kenya as elsewhere in the new Africa, there was need for a systematic and effective handling of the potential, and actual, influx of polarised or clashing ideologies.”

Multi party politics were re-birthed in 1992. Moi was not single-mindedly inclined towards a single party governance system.

He also faulted it when it came to ideology. He cited internal rivalries within a single party which he said would bleed a country when leaders jostle for the limited top positions of influence. 

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