Court revokes choice of KEMSA Board members

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe when he appeared before the National Assembly Health Committee over Kemsa Scandal at Parliament. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has revoked the appointment of four member of the Kenya Medical Suppliers Authority board of directors.

Lady Justice Maureen Onyango ruled that Health CS Mutahi Kagwe did not follow the right procedure in appointing Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Kiunge and Linton Nyaga Kinyua to the Kemsa Board.

“I find that the decision by the Health SC to appoint the board members was done without following the law and is therefore null and void. The appointments were not done competitively and locked out other deserving and qualified people,” ruled Onyango.

She ruled that the four board members were not competitively recruited and that their appointment did not meet the threshold of transparency, gender equality and equity for the marginalised. Lady Justice Onyango, however, declined to stop the restructuring at the medical suppliers agency which commenced last year following controversy surrounding the management of Covid-19 funds and supplies. According to the judge, there was nothing wrong when Kemsa Board sent its employees to work from home and instructed other to proceed on mandatory leave to pave way for the restructuring.

She also dismissed claims that the Ministry of Health had hired personnel from the Kenya Defence Forces and National Youth Service, ruling that there was no evidence to prove the military had taken over the institution without authority.

“I am not satisfied the employees are at risk of losing their jobs since they have not been declared redundant. There is no proof that Kemsa sacked any of its employees, even the deployment of KDF and NYS personnel did not mean they had been dismissed,” ruled Onyango.

The national medical supplier was hit with controversy last year following allegations that billions of shillings meant to fight Covid-19 had been misappropriated. As a result, the Health CS disbanded the Board and appointed the new members in April 2021. The reconstituted Kemsa Board then sent the employees home to pave way for the restructuring exercise.

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