William Ruto speaks on Rashid Echesa sacking

Wednesday March 18 2020
Echesa

The then Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa during an interview at the ministry's headquarters at Kencom Building in Nairobi, November 9, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By EVELYNE MUSAMBI
By JOEL MUINDE

Deputy President William Ruto’s interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday night had several tense moments.

One of those moments came after Dr Ruto was asked to explain why President Uhuru Kenyatta dropped his ally Rashid Echesa from the Sports ministry.

Coming in the wake of intense infighting within Jubilee Party and investigations over alleged corruption touching on ministries headed by his allies, Mr Ruto danced around some questions making it clear to the interviewer that he was either annoyed or was not going to answer them.

Asked why Mr Echesa was axed from the Cabinet, a reason the former boxer says was never revealed to him, the Deputy President could only muster a cagey and cryptic response.

Mr Echesa, who has on numerous occasions asked the President to explain why he sacked him, believes he is a victim of the 2022 succession politics because of his unwavering support for Mr Ruto.

But Mr Ruto said President Uhuru Kenyatta does not owe anyone an explanation for sacking a Cabinet secretary.

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Here is an excerpt of the TV interview:

Mr Hussein Mohammed: Why was Echesa sacked?

Mr Ruto: Put on the flip side, why was he hired?

Mr Mohammed: You serve at the Presidency, you know why you hired him…

Mr Ruto: So I think, the same hiring authority…

Mr Mohammed: Deserves the right to fire?

Mr Ruto: Yes, with or without explanation.

But Mr Echesa’s short-lived time at the helm of the Sports ministry was not without controversy.

In January this year, he was forced to deny involvement in the issuance of work permits to eight Pakistani dancers who were deported by the state over claims they were victims of human trafficking.

But the ministry defended him saying he only supported their application for special passes to participate in a cultural festival.

Last year, President Kenyatta publicly expressed displeasure with the minister’s work while on a visit to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga mausoleum in Bondo.

The President, who was accompanied by Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga, was unhappy that the tomb, which fell under Mr Echesa’s docket, was not well-tended.

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

At the height of his gaffes, he had a public spat with Mr Odinga whom he dared to order his sacking, an indication of his failure to understand the changing political landscape following the March 9 truce at Harambee House.