August 2017: The Game Changers

For every political move, there are behind the scenes machinations that influence them. In Kenya, it is no different. Here are some of the people that will influence the outcome of the campaigns, and eventually the August elections.

By Tom Mboya

  1. Gideon Moi

A few days before she left for Addis Ababa to contest for the chair of the African Union Commission, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed had a party thrown in her honour by a caucus of close women friends. The guest list which had who-is-who in Kenya was topped by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. Also working furiously behind the scenes was Zahra Moi, wife to Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

The glaring absence of the Deputy President’s wife Rachel Ruto was not missed. According to a source familiar with the event, the snub Rachel faced was part of the supremacy battles playing out between her husband and the Baringo Senator.

Hitherto reserved, Gideon is fast-cutting a niche for himself as a force to reckon with, especially in as far as Kalenjin politics go. That they do not see eye to eye with Ruto is an open secret and if he decides to field candidates through Kanu, then the Jubilee Party might find the going rough in Kalenjin land.

Gideon’s growing clout informed the impromptu flight taken by former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta Kabarak to meet Mzee Moi. According to those in the know, Uhuru and his Jubilee Party were getting concerned that Gideon might eat into Kalenjin vote thus denying the ruling party its famed Tyranny of Numbers.

Although Gideon has no time for Ruto, observers of Kalenjin politics cite two things that might just make him soften his stand: the long standing friendship between the Kenyattas and the Mois as well as his personal friendship with Uhuru.

Consequently, Gideon remains a key player in Uhuru’s reelection bid. But if on the other hand he decides to field candidates in the Rift Valley….

Baringo Senator- Gideon Moi

Baringo Senator- Gideon Moi

  1. Musalia Mudavadi

Sometime late last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta tried to mudsling Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi alluding to the fact that despite having been in the government for far too long, the former vice president had nothing to show for it. The attempt backfired. So bad that Kenyatta has never tried anything against Wicky―as his close friends call him—again.

Mudavadi’s supporters went hammers and tongs on the president saying that the two were almost age-mates. They even added that Mudavadi served the government at various levels when Uhuru was still in school, adding for a good measure that the president displayed the perfect symptoms of a slow learner.

This comeback from Mudavadi’s supporters helped reinforce their view that the former Sabatia MP is a force to reckon with as we head into the next elections. The Mudavadi we have today looks more emboldened and quite presidential. A soft spoken man, Mudavadi cuts the picture of the local priest you can trust with your sins at the confessional or the likeable uncle one can confide in about youthful indiscretions.

He is likely to be a key player in the opposition quest for a single candidate to take on Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto at the polls. With the opposition leading light, Raila Odinga, always fighting one claim after another from the Jubilee government, Mudavadi stands a good chance of being the opposition’s compromise candidate.

Were he to bag the opposition ticket through the National Super Alliance (NASA) Mudavadi is most likely to be packaged as a safe bet that can be sold in all corners of the republic. If on the other hand he doesn’t get the ticket but offers his support to the flag bearer, Mudavadi would still be a force to reckon with.

ANC party leader, Musalia Mudavadi.

ANC party leader, Musalia Mudavadi.

  1. Mama Ngina Kenyatta

If there is one woman who has wielded power during all four presidencies since Kenya attained independence then it is Mama Ngina Kenyatta. When she recently took a flight to Kabarak to ‘say hello’ to former president Daniel arap Moi, tongues were left wagging over the actual reason for the top secret mission.

“I am here to check on you as a friend,” was all Mama Ngina could say of the visit although it was plain obvious even to a stranger in Jerusalem that the Uhuru reelection was the sole reason for the unusual visit.

Being the First Mother, Mama Ngina can easily sway her president son. According to insiders, the visit was aimed at crafting a deal with Moi on how his son Gideon—who inherited his father’s former party, Kanu―could work with the president.

On top of that, as the matriarch, Mama Ngina knows the late Jomo Kenyatta’s political debtors and she can come collecting at anytime on behalf of her son. For example, it has been claimed that there was a pact between Jomo and Moi, that’s why Moi lifted Uhuru from relative obscurity—at least politically―and hoisted him on Kenyans as a candidate in 2002.

If this is true, the burden falls on Mama Ngina to see to it that she repays the debt to the Mois by supporting Gideon’s any future plans. Apart from this, despite not having a lot of formal education, the lady is said to have an acute sense of business, the gift that has seen her oversee the multi-billion Kenyatta family wealth. This being Kenya where money controls politics, with her deep pockets, Mama Ngina will remain a force to reckon with for a long time to come

Mama Ngina  Kenyatta

Mama Ngina Kenyatta

  1. Evans Kidero

With the entry of former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth into the Nairobi gubernatorial race, the profile of Nairobi Governor Evans Odhiambo Kidero is set to rise, and for many reasons.

For starters, it appears that president Uhuru Kenyatta, and by extension the Mount Kenya power brokers, have trained their sights on the former Gatanga MP as the man who will carry the community’s political aspirations post-Uhuru.

Taking into account the fact that there is a pact under which Uhuru and his Mount Kenya voters are supposed to support Deputy President Ruto for his stab at the presidency come 2022, Kenneth’s entry is likely to complicate things for Ruto.

And this is where Kidero comes in. Going by the old adage that there are no permanent enemies in politics, it would not be far-fetched to imagine a scenario where Ruto goes out of his way to give Kidero all the support he needs.

Call it cutting the nose to spite the face, but for Ruto this would be a smart move. With a Governor Kenneth in Nairobi, chances of him going for the presidency in 2022 will be very high and no one will remember the pact that would see Mount Kenya supporting Ruto, after all Kenneth would be one of their own.

This rekindles memories of the famous MoU between Mwai Kibaki and Odinga just before the 2002 elections. Although Kibaki and his henchmen later denied the existence of such an arrangement, those of us who were present at the Hilton Hotel when the deal was signed know the truth.

There is no secret that Ruto is a schemer par excellence and if supporting Kidero would dim Kenneth’s chances while increasing the DP’s own chances, then all indications are that the man from Sugoi would gladly back the man from Asumbi to be reelected Nairobi Governor.


  1. Ali Hassan Joho

Going by the moniker Governor 001, Ali Hassan Joho has thrust himself into the national limelight and he has become the poster boy of governors standing up to the Jubilee administration. His run-ins with President Kenyatta, public spats with Commissioner Nelson Marwa and his elevation to be Raila Odinga’s number two in the Orange democratic Movement have all converged to give the governor a rising clout in the national politics.

Joho pushed himself to the main ODM table after hosting the party leader Raila to a high octane series of rallies at the Coast with tens of fuel guzzlers branded with the party colours and sporting Raila’s pictures. He later repeated the same feat at an ODM rally in Kisumu. The latter earned him a few enemies within the party and there were claims that some Luo members of ODM were murmuring that Joho was taking the party away from them.

Joho has already cut a niche for himself as the number one governor in the entire former coast province. Those well acquainted with his politics say that the former transport assistant minister is angling to sell himself as a defender of Muslims, a strategy that will definitely increase his support base―which he will without doubt hand over to his boss, Raila.

As this happens, Joho’s detractors accuse him of being involved in drugs smuggling, an allegation that has never been proven. When the sons of the slain drug lord Ibrahim Akasha were extradited to the United States to face drug-related charges, Joho’s detractors were over the moon crowing that it was only a matter of time before the governor faced the same fate.

As it is, those are just mere allegations. The truth is that Joho is a force to reckon with and you can only ignore him at your own risk.

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho

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