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Punish culprits in the Sh5b Health scam

COMMENTARY
By Nicholas Asego | October 28th 2016
According to an audit commissioned by Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, the money may have been stolen in the past financial year or paid to fake companies.PHOTO: COURTESY

Revelations of a possible theft of Sh5 billion at the Ministry of Health are shocking.

According to an audit commissioned by Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, the money may have been stolen in the past financial year or paid to fake companies.

That files of some suspected companies have suddenly and strangely disappeared from the Registrar of Companies points to a well-orchestrated cover-up.

At the heart of this plunder – the latest in a series of mind-boggling misappropriation of public funds under the Jubilee Government - are well-connected senior Government officials.

They have no moral consciousness; they are simply driven by sheer greed.

How do you steal money meant to buy food rations for people living with HIV? Just how heartless will one need to be to divert money meant for free maternity?

This comes on a day an expectant woman is said to have died of excessive bleeding after she was turned away from Homa Bay County Referral Hospital.

The money is said to be enough to buy 16 state-of-the-art cancer-fighting equipment.

Kenyatta National Hospital - the country’s main teaching and referral hospital has only one machine.

How do these leaders feel when they hear of patients dying because of lack of proper medical care as a result of their pocketing the budgeted funds?

The arrogance with which a senior ministry official threatened a journalist and even hinted at hacking newsroom computers and individual bank accounts points to an inexplicable belief of being above the law.

It also demonstrates a bottomless contempt for the Kenyan public and the institutions which hold government to account.

Time will tell whether Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri is a breed apart from your ordinary ministry chief executive or just another bureaucrat mesmerised by his proximity to power.

The Health Cabinet Secretary said the revelations are based ‘on an interim audit report... is an ongoing process’ and says the ministry will not condone any acts of corruption.

He has promised that action would be taken “at all times to guarantee and preserve the value of taxpayers’ money.”

Kenyans have yet to absorb the full shock of the plunder which happened in the National Youth Service, and hardly a year later comes a repeat of the bare-faced multimillion-shilling theft.

Will the white-collar bandits of the Health ministry also get away with it?

President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed his helplessness at dealing with the runaway corruption in Government.

During the State House Summit on Governance, Uhuru said he had provided all resources that institutions had asked for to be able to deal with corruption but no fruits were forthcoming.

Yet he is still the tenant at State House and the Office of the President. The burden of accountability and action over the Health ministry scandal – and all other abuses of official power - rests with him.

This internal audit of the Health ministry should be properly wrapped up, the report shared with the appropriate public institutions and ruthless action taken not only to punish the thieves, but also to recover stolen taxpayers' money.

Over to you, Mr President.

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