Gideon: Following Mzee’s footsteps, one day at a time

Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi at a rally. [Abdimalik Ismail, Standard]

Before the death of former President Daniel Moi on February 4 last year, Gideon Moi, his youngest son, uniquely managed to keep his life private.

Even after joining active politics in 2002 when he inherited the Baringo Central parliamentary seat his father held for 40 years, he still kept a low profile.

Born in October 1963, Gideon’s political journey was subtle up until the time he contested the Baringo Senate seat in 2013 and won.

He trounced his opponent, Rev Jackson Kosgei, with over 80 per cent of the cast votes.

Even then, some still ignored the younger Moi as a passing cloud and dismissed him as just a son keen on riding on his father’s starling political career that had captured the country’s imagination for slightly over four decades.

Mzee Moi is so far Kenya’s longest serving president – from 1978 to 2002 – and he peacefully handed over power to President Mwai Kibaki.

Previously, he had served as the third vice president from 1967 to 1978. He retired at his home in Kabarak before his death on February 4, 2020.

But Mzee Moi’s genes, both biological and political, have continued to run strong in the country.

Even in his death, he continues to shape the current political climate, with key players having either worked for him or were groomed by him.

Three of his four sons contested various elective seats in the 2007 General Election, but it is Gideon who has been consistent after succeeding his father in Parliament in 2002.

His siblings include Phillip Moi, Jonathan Moi – who died in April 2019 – John Mark Moi, Raymond Moi (MP for Rongai), Jennifer Jemutai Kositany, Doris Moi and June Moi.

Gideon is married to Zahra Moi, with whom he has three children: Kimoi, Kigen and Lulu.

At his his father’s State funeral, Raymond passed the family’s political baton to his younger brother, Gideon. The baton, popularly known as fimbo ya nyayo, was a permanent symbol throughout Moi’s leadership.

Ever since that momentous event, Gideon has never disappointed in terms of keeping Mzee Moi’s political torch burning.

While Raymond is an elected leader, he has willingly, with the rest of the family, stepped back and allowed Gideon to take over from his father.

The younger Moi has since established himself as key political figure in the country and one of the leading contenders to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta next year.

Gideon has been building political alliances with like-minded politicians and marketing the revamped independence party, Kanu.

He is the chairman of Kanu, a party he inherited from his father and which he has transformed into a modern political outfit that he intends to use as a vehicle to carry him to State House when President Kenyatta completes his second term.

Although he is yet to publicly announce his candidature for the presidential race, he is now seen as a top contender.

Gideon’s party agreed to a post-election coalition with the ruling Jubilee government in what is largely seen as a strategy to position himself for the Kenyatta succession.

“Gideon has so far managed to keep Mzee Moi’s political torch burning. He has done a superb job by making himself visible at the national level, positioning himself as one of the top political leaders,” says Gordon Ogola, a member of the Kanu National Executive Council.

Gideon has managed to re-activate his father’s political network, and forged a working relationship with ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress (ANC).

The three either worked with President Moi or were part of his government.

Gideon has also offered President Kenyatta and Raila a familiar name with which to navigate the foreseeable future. The two leaders came together in an agreement to end divisive politics rising from periodical elections that have been marred by rigging claims and  political violence.

The March 9, 2018 Handshake between Uhuru and Raila at Harambee House in Nairobi has given birth to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020, which is aimed at addressing political and social challenges affecting the country.

Gideon has solely taken the responsibility of popularising the Bill and is spreading the message of peace, love and unity, just like his father did during his era.

“As your leader, I will always push to see the lives of the people improve. All we want is for Kenyans to be united, live in peace and alleviate people from poverty,” he said in his first BBI meeting in Trans Mara sub-County in December last year.

More polished

His messaging has been consistent: “Entrenching dialogue in our political and governance discourses is paramount. And even in the face of disagreements, we must insist on respecting each other’s opinion. Our diversity must be the source of our national pride, deliberate cohesion and collective prosperity.”

Those close to him say Gideon has been emboldened and is more polished, an indication that he is ready to take his competitors head-on.

“Before, many dismissed him as a slow-starter and not particularly fired up. But now he has come out clearly and is slowly taking over from where his father left,” said former Cabinet Minister Musa Sirma.

Gideon has been creating what is believed to be the birth of a new political formation to take on Deputy President William Ruto.

Ruto, who is one of the political students of Mzee Moi, enjoys a huge following in the populous Rift Valley.

In his quest for political supremacy, Gideon has been keen on positioning Kanu to win more seats across the country in 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio says Kenyans should be prepared to see more of Gideon in the run-up to the 2022 elections and after.

“Gideon and Kanu are coming out strongly and will make a huge impact in national politics – much more than he is doing now,” he says of his party leader.

After the passage of the constitutional amendments, the next stage will be the Kenyatta succession next year.

“You have witnessed how our chairman and all members of the party have gone out of their way to popularise the BBI, aligning the nation with the Handshake agenda of uniting the country,” says Poghisio.

He warns that those who have been belittling and underestimating Gideon’s political potential will be in for a rude shock.