Top government officials implicated over the controversial Sh63 billion Managed Medical Equipment Services (MES) project will go scot-free after Senate rejected a probe report.
The report had described the MES project as ‘criminal enterprise’ that was hatched to benefit well-connected government officials and business moguls for the seven-year lease period.
The ad-hoc committee’s decision means that nobody will now be held accountable for the questionable project.
A section of senators ganged up in protest after Speaker Ken Lusaka disallowed proposed amendments seeking to implicate key personalities and international firms with local partnership, exonerated by the committee.
Interestingly, even members of the Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo-led committee voted against the report, with only two lawmakers supporting.
Twenty seven senators rejected the report saying it should form the basis of a preliminary probe by the Health committee chaired by Uasin Gishu Senator Michael Mbito.
The report had failed to assign individuals culpability in the alleged theft and instead recommended further probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and forensic audit by the Auditor General within six months.
“Chapter Six watered down the whole report. Speaker disallowed all amendments. There was no choice,” disclosed a senator.
Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said somebody should have been sanctioned, as it is not enough to say this is a criminal enterprise.
“This was criminal action by persons who are known, CSs and PSs, they signed the contracts and lawyers were involved… When it comes to lawyers and in particular page 96 and 97, something very strange happened,” Kilonzo Jnr noted.
He added, “The contractors contributed donations for legal fees. It’s unheard of.. Part of the law firms were lawyers for some of the contractors...a direct conflict.”
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said this was a grand scheme designed to fleece counties.
Minority Leader James Orengo proposed that the report becomes part of a record of the House and instead of making recommendations, they direct a special counsel to investigate and come up with a solution that will be agreeable to the people.
“In fact the prosecutorial and investigatory arms of government have more information than we have, what have they done?” He questioned.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said it was clear from the onset, that MES was all about making money.
“This business of a committee sitting and ensuring that they expose all the ills in a particular situation then coming to be soft in the recommendations is something that this House today is being called to make a radical decision.”
Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mogeni said the report shows government acted like a thug on MES.
“I have no hesitation in concluding that this project was unwise, unjust and it was almost bordering on throwing away all the values that we put in place when we enacted our Constitution in 2010,” he stated.
He regretted that international firms were not indicted.
Elgeyo/Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen supported rejection of the report.
Mr Murkomen said: “If you look at the indictments from the committee it focuses mostly on the local contractors but the biggest contractor which is General Electric is not mentioned anywhere.”
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi on his part said, “We must say very loudly to the national government that this is not the way to do things. The questions is who was making or calling the shots on the decision?”
He argued that if a seller comes and says that an item goes for Sh100 million, “who was saying that this Sh100 million we can or cannot afford. Who was making those calls.”
Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang urged members to reflect on how to prevent a repeat of MES project in the future. “That mistake has been made by the Executive, the governors, the Senate and the county assemblies,” said Mr Kajwang.
Plead with members
But Ms Dullo and Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua pleaded with members to support the report, saying they had done a good job.
She warned that rejecting the report would end the probe into the alleged misappropriations of taxpayers billions at Afya House. “If you kill this report, this will indict this House. Kenyans were really waiting for this report and if it is killed today, this is the end of MES.”
Mr Wambua said: “MES, is a situation where the equipment that we have today in our hospitals does not belong to us. The only thing that we are paying for in those hospitals is the service that we are getting from the equipment.”