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Moi beneficiaries say he was not a dictator, just a tough leader

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli. /CFM-FILE.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – Leaders who worked closely with former President Daniel arap Moi have come out to defend him from allegations that he was a dictator who ruled with an iron fist and plundered the country’s economy.

Most of those who spoke to us on Wednesday said Moi was “just tough and always stood his ground.”

“If you are not tough, you will find someone in your bedroom. President Moi was not a dictator but a man of excellence,” said Francis Atwoli, the Secretary-General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU), who is still a die-hard of Moi’s KANU party which he used to rule Kenya for 24 years.

Atwoli said Moi “was a man who took his job seriously and did not tolerate incompetence” which made him a tough leader.

The COTU boss who spoke to us when he visited Moi’s family on Wednesday said the retired president will be remembered for his “generosity that everyone has benefitted from either directly or indirectly.”

Moi who served the country for 24 years making him the longest-serving President thus far, died on Tuesday morning at The Nairobi Hospital after battling a long illness.

President Kenyatta during one of his visits to retired President Moi at his Kabarak home. /PSCU-FILE.

“Mzee was humble and a generous man. I am who I am today because of him. Mzee has contributed to my success and I am sure all of us have something nice to say about him,” he said, dismissing those calling him a dictator.

“If you never benefitted directly, then you drank maziwa ya Nyayo (Nyayo’s milk). Something many of us will remember him for,” Atwoli added.

Senate Minority Leader James Orengo described Moi as a statesman “who has left an indelible mark in the Country.”

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong showered Moi with glowing tribute, saying “he will be remembered as the only President who truly ruled this country without fear while striving to bring peace, love, and unity among Kenyans.”

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When Moi coughed, he said, “It was felt everywhere. He needed to be tough because it is not easy to rule over people because you rule over thieves, witchcraft and all manner of character.”

Council of Governors’ deputy Chairperson Mwangi Wa Iria urged Kenyans to focus on the great things that Moi did as opposed to what he did not do.

“Those who met and knew Moi on a personal level, adore him. He was in touch with everyone including children. He was a great man and if we borrow ideas from him, we will make a great country,” Wa Iria said.

Even though the family has not formally made any announcement on the burial date, there are reports that he will be buried on Wednesday next week.

The military has since taken charge of the burial preparations with President Moi set to be accorded a state funeral, with all the appropriate civilian and full military honors being rendered and observed.

President Kenyatta in his proclamation on Tuesday declared national mourning until after Moi’s burial.

The Kenyan Flag is flying at half-mast throughout the country.

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