alexa How Rashid Echesa's stunts caused his downfall - Daily Nation

How Rashid Echesa's stunts caused his downfall

Friday March 1 2019

JUSTUS WANGA
By JUSTUS WANGA
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The first sign that the continued stay of the sacked Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa was no longer tenable was when President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly took him on at the mausoleum of the late opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in Bondo last year.

In the company of ODM leader Raila Odinga and other aides, Mr Kenyatta was unhappy that the tomb looked deserted yet its maintenance falls under Mr Echesa’s docket.

Those who were present said Mr Odinga had to intervene to save him from the President’s wrath.

Today, he became the first minister to be outrightly sacked by the President. In the past, Mr Kenyatta has relieved ministers of their duties, but without saying so.

FEUD WITH RAILA

They have either been redeployed, or suffered a similar fate such as that of current Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku who was replaced by the late Joseph Nkaissery without a word about his fate.

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Mr Echesa has had endless gaffes, with the most notable one being his public spat with Mr Odinga.

He failed to read the signs of the time after his boss embraced Mr Odinga following the March 9 political truce at Harambee House.

The former minister dared Mr Odinga to go ahead and sack him if he thought he was the appointing authority.

While the truth is that Mr Odinga has no such powers, Mr Echesa may however want to reflect back to see where the rains may have started beating him.

"We have one Government led by Uhuru and William Ruto, and those are the only people I will pledge my priority to and not to you, Raila Odinga. I want to dare you Raila, if you have the appointing authority, come and sack me," he said.

POLITICKING
And recently when Mr Kenyatta warned his Cabinet members to concentrate on working and stop politicking, the minister was believed to be one of the targets.

Mr Echesa was fond of addressing rallies in western Kenya compared to his frequency of making policy statements.

"During today's Cabinet meeting I reminded our Cabinet secretaries that there are many young Kenyans who are willing and ready to work if they felt they are not up to task.

"Those who have chosen to keep politicking instead of serving the people should be ready to give way," President Kenyatta said on January 31.

At one point he asked ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi to forget about 2022 presidential ambitions arguing he could not raise Sh200 billion as campaign finance. He endorsed Dr Ruto's candidacy.

Mr Echesa has been embroiled in a number of violent exchanges in western Kenya in the past, with the most notable being a face-off with Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala in Mayoni where scores were injured and vehicles damaged.

MONEY LAUNDERING
Against swirling claims that he may have been involved in some inappropriate conduct and that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations was treating him as a person of interest in some live case, the former firebrand ODM youth leader warned that he would seek legal redress.

"I will sue anyone who accuses me of money laundering," he said.

Another embarrassing moment for Mr Echesa came when eight Pakistani club dancers were arrested for being in the country illegally.

Defence lawyer Evans Ondieki told Senior Principal Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot that the girls who were arrested at Balle Balle Club in Parklands were in the country legally with full permission of Mr Echesa.

NUDE PHOTOS

In his supremacy fights with Senator Malala, he was also linked to manufactured nude photos allegedly of the lawmaker which were circulated online.

Last October, police at the KICC station summoned Mr Echesa after three journalists who had been arrested concerning the matter dragged his name in the saga.

"KICC police station has a reason to believe you, Hon Rashid Echesa, have information that may assist in investigation of [an] alleged offence [contrary to the] Cybercrimes Act 2018," the summon read.

In August Mr Echesa was caught up in a near fist fight with Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi at Kisumu Airport.

The MP was reported to have started the argument with Mr Echesa over the CS's comments linking Mr Odinga to an alleged plot to kick him out of the Cabinet.

After the incident, some of his colleagues complained that he was an embarrassment to the Cabinet.

RELATIONS
At ministerial level, reports have been abound that he had a poor working relationship with his juniors. Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia was at some point forced to fight back claims that he had fallen out with the minister.

"I enjoy the best relationship with my CS because we are both tasked and determined to improve the state of sports in the country," he said.

For the last one year he has sat in the Cabinet, Mr Echesa and controversy have been almost synonyms.

During his vetting, some MPs felt he was not the right man for the job. His humble education background was also subject of heated debate yet there is no education requirement for one to be appointed to the Cabinet.

The debate emanated from the fact that while there is no such requirement, an appointee expected to preside over complex matters needs to possess professional background that allows them to process delicate issues in the line of duty.

HIRSI FIRED
Meanwhile, this was the second time President Kenyatta was sacking Principal Secretary Fatuma Hirsi in less than a year.

In June last year the Head of State fired her as Tourism principal secretary.

In a letter dated May 30, 2018, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua informed her that her contract was not renewed.

"Your employment contract has been terminated forthwith," Mr Kinyua told her. "You will be paid your salary up to June 30, which will be your last working day."

However, a month later when the President effected a mini Cabinet reshuffle he appointed her as principal secretary for Broadcasting.

Prior to her appointment to the Tourism docket in 2015, Ms Hirsi worked in the United Nation’s Universal Postal Agency.

Ms Hirsi, who hails from Wajir South, has previous experience in various companies including the Nation Media Group, Communications Authority of Kenya, and Gulf African Bank.