How Nyachae ‘financed’ dissent against Daniel Moi’s regime - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 7 February 2021

How Nyachae ‘financed’ dissent against Daniel Moi’s regime


Although he was a long-serving government insider, former powerful Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae secretly funded dissent against the Moi government, including the push to change the Constitution.

Whereas the reforms movement was associated with the likes of Njeru Kathangu, George Anyona Moseti, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia and Raila Odinga, Nyachae was a silent player.

“There are many faces which Nyachae was known for. Although he was a system man, he supported progressive movements which promised posterity for the country,” Mr Kathangu told Sunday Nation in an interview.

Daniel arap Moi

A past photograph of the late Mark Too second (left), former Nominated KANU Party MP, the late retired President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi (right), former Vice President the late Prof George Saitoti (left), former Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae (centre), on February 13, 2020. 

File | Nation Media Group

Mr Kathangu, the leader of Ford Asili, which was formed at the advent of multi-party democracy and from whose tree Nyachae’s presidential bid political party Ford People was formed, spoke after the death of the former minister saying that he could not break his trust by making the information public earlier.

“We have to remember this very important part of history especially on the role that an insider played to help reform his own government,” Mr Kathangu said.

The former Runjenyes MP recalled how Nyachae gave the Second Liberation heroes resources to fund their activities.

Unknown to many, it is Nyachae who connected the reformers to Kenneth Matiba, a former minister who became the face of the early 1990s multi-party democracy crusade alongside others.

Moi regime

According to Mr Kathangu, Nyachae’s bid to help reform the Moi regime started in the late 1980s. After retiring from government in 1987, Nyachae almost became a lone voice when he decided to take on the Moi regime.

The former powerful Chief Administrative Secretary in Moi’s government bought newspaper space in the then leading publications, Daily Nation and the Standard, through which he published his position on why he believed that both President Moi and Kanu were leading Kenya in the wrong path.

One of the issues which Nyachae vehemently opposed was the Mlolongo (queuing) system of voting.

Then in the early 1990s, Kathangu and Anyona joined hands to form the Manifesto For Change movement with a focus to turn it to a political party picking the name the Kenya National Congress.

The reformers aimed to have the Kenya National Congress become Kenya’s second political party after Kanu which had ruled for years in a single party system.

So as to get more support for the movement, they sought the help of independence hero Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

Jaramogi instructed them to contact Bildad Kaggia, Achieng Oneko and veteran journalist and politician Luke Obok to “bless” the movement.

Financial support

“Convinced that Nyachae might be of help, we headed to his office which was located in Nairobi’s Industrial Area. He was very impressed and agreed to support us,” Kathangu recalls.

In his first financial support for the movement, the Ford Asili leader recalls that Nyachae gave them Sh250, 000 to be used for printing the Manifesto For Change Movement documents.

“Nyachae also instructed us to go and meet Matiba. He promised to sell the idea to Matiba,” Mr Kathangu recalls.

Simeon Nyachae

Mr Simeon Nyachae. 

File | Nation Media Group

Although Matiba agreed to work with the Jaramogi Odinga team, he went ahead to recruit former Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia in May 1990.

The two went ahead to announce multi-party campaigns and announced Saba Saba movement aping the Saba Saba Day in Tanzania in which the Tanganyika African National Union was formed.

As the agitation for multi-party democracy intensified, the Moi government cracked the whip by arresting and detaining the leading figures in the second liberation movement.

After being released from detention at Nyayo House, they were taken to court and accused of treason. The charges were later on substituted with sedition.

Sedition case

On the first date of their appearance in court, Nyachae sent a battery of lawyers to represent the agitators. This was despite the fact that by this time, Nyachae had warned his way back to Moi and was to become the Kanu candidate for Nyaribari Chache constituency in the 1992 general election in which he won in a landslide victory.

Mr Kathangu recalls that the team of lawyers was led by Paul Muite. As the case went on, the number of lawyers representing the second liberation heroes in court increased to 23.

The Ford Asili leader recalls that Nyachae paid around Sh400,000 as legal fees to Mr Muite for representing them in the sedition court case.

Simeon Nyachae

Mr Simeon Nyachae, then Finance minister, and Mr Raila Odinga, then Lang’ata MP, discuss clashes in Gucha, Migori and Trans Nzoia on March 7, 1998.

File | Nation Media Group

After his win in the 1992 election, Moi appointed Nyachae into the Cabinet.

Progressives say that despite Nyachae being in the Cabinet, he continued to secretly fund their activities which were aimed at pushing Moi’s government out of power.

In 2000, Nyachae financed the Muungano Wa Mageuzi(Movement for Change) constitutional reform movement being spearheaded by Senator James Orengo and Mr Kathangu.

A year earlier, in 1999, Nyachae had resigned from the government having being moved from the influential Finance docket.

Preached peace

In 2000, the Muungano wa Mageuzi movement held rallies across the country asking Kenyans to oppose President Moi's "dictatorship" and "to insist on a new constitution before the 2002 general election."

Despite having served in government for most of his life, the fact that Nyachae still went ahead to fund agitation against the government describes the paradox that was his life.

He was a man who preached peace yet promoted violence (when provoked, as he loved to say), fought for space for the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church but still went against its principles and advocated for modernity yet embraced traditions.

Whereas he held annual peace events, he was protected by a group of youth known as Amachuma and Chinkororo who meted violence on his opponents.

Simeon Nyachae

Former Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae who died on February 01, 2021 at the age of 88. 

File | Nation Media Group

One of the notable victims of Nyachae’s Amachuma was former Transport PS Sospeter Arasa who announced his intention to campaign against Nyachae in Nyaribari Chache constituency in the 1997 general election.

The PS ended his political ambitions when he visited a part of the constituency to campaign while riding a horse. The Amachuma and locals canned the horse mercilessly forcing Mr Arasa to cut short his campaigns and run for his dear life.

After that, the PS quietly disappeared to Nakuru never to be heard of again. He died in 2016.

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