Mixed reactions have followed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s sacking of Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, some politicians saying the move was a display of ingratitude, considering the 2017 campaigns for the presidential election.
In an executive order on Friday morning, President Kenyatta replaced Mr Echesa with Amina Mohamed who was moved from the Education ministry.
The President said the changes, that followed tough talk against corruption, were aimed at equipping and and orientating his government in its implementation of the Big Four Agenda.
But the politicians have referred back to the last general election in their reactions, accusing Mr Kenyatta of being unthankful to people who stood with him and his Jubilee Party during campaigns ahead of the August 8, 2017 poll.
Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali noted “it was tough selling the Jubilee agenda in Western” and that “Mr Echesa was among people who went out of their way to propagate Jubilee and create in-routes for Mr Kenyatta to access the region”.
“We are not happy with this decision,” the National Assembly Chief Whip said, adding other ruling party members from the region were equally disheartened by President Kenyatta’s decision.
He said they remained worried “because Mr Kenyatta has shown that he doesn’t value us”.
The lawmaker, who referred to Mr Echesa as “one of our own”, went on to say that Mr Kenyatta should have invited Luhya leaders to a meeting to explain his decision and prepare them for it.
Mr Washiali acknowledged that Mr Echesa had shortcomings but said the President should have accepted and learned to live with them. He did not give details.
“He (Mr Echesa) has his own people and commands a large following, not only in western but also across the country. I know these people will make their own decisions,” he said.
The MP regretted that some members of the Luhya community had been advocating for Mr Echesa’s sacking.
He took issue with Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli, asking him to hold a celebration “as his aspirations have been achieved since he had been spearheading calls to sack Mr Echesa”.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, who had been at logger heads with Mr Echesa, said the Luhya community had suffered “a great deal”.
“This had been the only cabinet slot in Kakamega County. We ask the President to consider appointing another leader from the county,” he said.
Matungu legislator Justus Murunga, however, noted that the President has the authority to hire and fire ministers.
“We cannot blame the President for sacking our brother because we didn’t force him to appoint Echesa when he came up with his Cabinet in 2018,” said Mr Murunga.
Mr Echesa was appointed amid questions regarding his academic, with claims that he lacked the credentials for the job.
When he presented his Curriculum Vitae to the National Assembly Committee on Appointments, it was revealed that he was a class seven dropout. His appointment to the Cabinet was, however, approved.
Speaking a day before he was sacked, Mr Echesa said that if he lost the job he would remain appreciative of the Jubilee administration for the chance to serve the country in that capacity.
“I have achieved a dream I never thought of and will forever remain thankful to God. The title will remain because people will refer to me as a former Cabinet secretary,” he said.
Mr Echesa, however, blamed his political detractors for his woes.
“They are wishing for me to be sacked as if they will all be appointed to take over. They should know it is God who uplifts an individual to whatever level he wants,” he said.