Rashid Echesa's claim stirs debate on a looming Cabinet reshuffle
- Rotich and Adan Mohamed have been indicted by a parliamentary committee investigating the entry of poisonous sugar in the country.
- Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has been facing consistent calls for his resignation following the death of 11 rhinos.
Amid rife speculations of a looming Cabinet reshuffle, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa stirred heated debate on Saturday when he sensationally claimed that ODM leader Raila Odinga is promising his job to opposition supporters.
Mr Echesa’s remarks come amid speculation that President Uhuru Kenyatta is planning to sack some of the ministers mentioned in corruption scandals, or those who have failed in their roles to pave way for opposition figures allied to Mr Odinga following the duo’s March 9 peace deal.
Mr Echesa, who had previously worked with ODM, said the opposition leader had “been acting as if he is in government” after the handshake.
"This government is led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, and Raila should stop intimidating those of us who have been appointed to serve as Cabinet secretaries as if he has become an appointing authority,” Mr Echesa told Nation in an interview.
Mr Echesa claimed that Mr Odinga had in a Tuesday meeting with 17 western Kenya MPs and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya “promised” to have him sacked in favour of other leaders from the region allied to the opposition leader.
He made the remarks during a funeral at Musanda, Mumias West in Kakamega County, which were widely circulated on social media yesterday.
Mr Echesa is one of at least seven ministers said to be under siege for fear that they could be targeted in the purge.
Analysts argue that the ministers in the firing line could be those with adverse mentions by various parliamentary committees, those who have fallen out of favour with their boss, and some who will be kicked out to allow regional balance.
While Mr Echesa’s fears cannot be confirmed, the utterances have increased speculation of an impending reshuffle.
But yesterday, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi told off Mr Echesa, warning him against “endless politicking, yet he is a civil servant”.
"It is Raila who brought him to the limelight when he appointed him a youth leader. He should respect him," Mr Sifuna said at Madeya P.A.G Church in Vihiga County.
Mr Osotsi asked Mr Echesa to apologise to Mr Odinga in the next 48 hours, while Mr Malala called on CSs to stick to their mandates “rather than politicking in funerals”.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his East African Community counterpart Adan Mohamed (formerly of Trade) have been indicted by a parliamentary committee investigating the entry of poisonous sugar in the country.
While Mr Rotich has been fingered for allowing the entry of the sugar through a notice he gave, the committee has recommended that Mr Mohamed be answerable for complacency by the Kenya Bureau of Standards in inspecting the imported sugar.
The committee also wants former Agriculture minister Willy Bett to be investigated for recommending duty waivers for about 14 companies said to have imported sugar outside the gazetted period.
At the same time, another committee investigating the payment of the Sh1.5 billion Ruaraka land has adversely mentioned Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, with his successor in the education docket Amina Mohamed telling the committee that no due diligence was taken by the ministry over the land’s compensation saga.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has been facing consistent calls for his resignation following the death of 11 rhinos, and his “go to hell” retort to those he said wanted him to step aside.
Health’s Sicily Kariuki survived an impeachment motion following scandals at Kenyatta National Hospital. Further, the National Youth Service lost taxpayer’s money under her watch as the Youth CS.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi argued that while investigations by House committees were only preliminary, guilt or otherwise will only be established by courts after probes by investigating agencies.
“The fact that many CSs were adversely mentioned is not nice. It doesn’t portend well for the CSs, especially when they are adversely mentioned in the reports. It is a bad image.”
Ford Kenya Deputy Party leader Boni Khalwale said: “There are far too many CSs adversely mentioned by Parliament, and President Kenyatta should either do a purge of the Cabinet or admit that they do not have the muscle to run Kenya, and we go for another election.”
By Patrick Lang’at, Benson Amadala, David Mwere, and Derick Luvega