Former Health Principal Secretary Josephine Mburu has distanced herself from the Sh3.7 billion anti-mosquito net scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KeMSA), saying she got into office after the procurement process had begun.
Mburu was appearing before the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago, to respond to allegations of irregularities in procuring long-lasting insecticidal nets at KeMSA.
While appearing before the Committee on Tuesday, June 6, the axed PS said she was wrongly fired and called for a fair hearing.
“I was not involved in the process. The process had started and I was told the new government had to continue the process. I believe the staff advised properly,” Mburu explained.
“It was a shocker [to me] when l watched on television. l thank President Ruto for allowing me to serve and l would not challenge the president. But l want the truth to come out whether l had a role to play in this scandal so that Kenyans can judge me.”
Mburu has also clarified that KeMSA operations are overseen by Medical Services, not Public Health which she was in charge of.
“I cannot discuss the board of KEMSA or its operations because it was not in my ministry. KeMSA is not under me, it was under PS Tum. I have no control over what happened there. KeMSA is under medical services which was headed by former PS Tum who has now been transferred to another ministry,” she said.
According to Mburu, she took office when the procurement process was underway. Weeks later, she was notified by one of her staff about an omission made in an advert running in the dailies.
After being advised by experts within the Ministry, she says, she wrote a letter to rectify the omissions.
“l was not involved in the process when KeMSA put the mosquito net tendering advert in the public domain…that's when the Head of Malaria program noticed the omissions. My letter to KeMSA concerning the omissions did not stop the tendering process as l was only giving clarity l did not stop it.”
About a fortnight ago, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) launched investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of a tender for the procurement of anti-mosquito nets at KEMSA.
EACC detectives obtained documents and other evidentiary material required for the investigation from KEMSA offices.
When former PS Susan Mochache exited the office, she was replaced by the two (Mburu and Tum) after her docket was split into two state departments namely: the State Department of Medical Services headed by Peter Tum and the State Department of Health Standards and Professional Management headed by Josephine Mburu.
As a result of the scandal, President William Ruto sacked Dr Josephine Mburu as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health's State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards over the mosquito nets scandal.
The President also revoked the appointments of the Chairperson and Members of the Board of Directors of KEMSA which was responsible for the flawed procurement process.
Ironically, PS Tum was reassigned from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Sports.
Additional Reporting by Brenda Czeda.