Kanu implodes in Salat, Moi falling-out

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi (right) with secretary general Nick Salat

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi (right) with secretary general Nick Salat and other officials during a National Executive Council meeting in Nakuru on February 23, 2017. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

They have been the best of friends, having shared the bond of rite of passage as they were initiated to manhood at the same time, under the same roof.

They were both elected to Parliament for the first time in 2002, and became budding ambassadors of Independence party Kanu, which had just been kicked out of power after a four-decade stranglehold on Kenya’s politics.

But the bitter falling-out between long-serving Kanu secretary general Nick Salat and party chairman Gideon Moi has broken all these bonds, and is threatening to tear apart the last of what is left of the party that bestrode Kenya’s political scenes like a colossus from 1963 to 2002.

Yesterday, the political implosion in Kanu took a fresh twist after the suspended Salat disclosed a plot to kick out Gideon Moi from the party leadership. He told Saturday Nation that most members want Mr Moi, who is serving as the interim chairperson, to step aside to allow the party to elect new officials.

At the same time, officials in Mr Moi’s faction also disclosed plans to crack the whip on “more rebels” holding party positions.

They said Mr Salat has continuously disrespected the party leadership by fighting Mr Moi and other National Executive Council (NEC) officials. They added that any official undermining Mr Moi’s leadership will be kicked out of the party. It was, however, not immediately clear which officials were also targeted for ouster.

Mr Salat yesterday indicated his plans to proceed to court to stop his possible ouster from the outfit in what could turn the current turbulence into a full-blown political battle. Kanu has not had elections since 2012 when the current office bearers were picked to serve on an interim basis, Mr Salat said. “We have to go for party elections to have new leadership. It is only a small clique of ‘yes people’ who are still with him (Moi). A majority of us want him to leave the party.

“Gideon Moi needs to step aside and allow for party elections. We have all been interim since 2012, so where does the chair get the power to suspend me? The current composition of NEC is also illegitimate and cannot purport to suspend me,” he said.

Mr Salat lost his Bomet parliamentary seat in the 2007 election and has unsuccessfully attempted different seats in the subsequent elections. He at some point became the face of Kanu.

Mr Moi, on the other hand, the youngest son of Kenya’s second president Daniel arap Moi, was picked by the family as the political and family heir of their father.

For many, Gideon represented the continuation of the Moi success in Kanu but who, unlike his father, is a reluctant leader with so much unexplored potential. Yesterday, Mr Salat said his suspension was due to his decision to question how the party was being “run down” by Mr Moi.

He also accused Mr Moi of constantly changing the party constitution to suit his personal interests. He said the party failed to win even a single governor or senator because of lack of progressive leadership. He also accused Mr Moi of not accounting for the resources of the party.

“There is no accountability in the party even in how resources are used. It is a one-man show. Look at the number of elected members we have after the August polls. Kanu is no longer a progressive party and the chair has to resign,” said Mr Salat.

On Thursday, Mr Moi announced the decision by the party’s NEC that Mr Salat stood suspended as the party’s disciplinary committee expedited disciplinary proceedings against him. The committee has 30 days to finalise the matter.

Kanu has five MPs in the National Assembly, with no members in the Senate and the Council of Governors. The big names who lost their seats in the last general election include Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot), Gladwel Tungo (Baringo) and Raymond Moi (Rongai).

Mr William Kamket, who retained his Tiaty parliamentary seat, has since shifted his loyalty to Kenya Kwanza.