Report reveals Kemsa rot as MPs protest Gitura transfer
By Allan Mungai and Moses Nyamori | March 31st 2021
A Senate report has given a peek into the rot at Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) that allowed companies to profiteer from the pandemic even as Members of Parliament protested the transfer of the board chair.
The Senate’s Committee on Health released a report of their eight-month-long inquiry into Kenya’s drug supplier, uncovering massive schemes that allowed companies to profiteer from the pandemic.
The committee chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito wants the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to investigate top Kemsa officials, including the CEO Dr Jonah Manjari, and Charles Juma, the director of procurement, Eliud Mureithi, (Commercial Services), Fredrick Wanyonyi (Legal Services), Edward Njoroge (Operations), and Waiganjo Karanja (Finance and Strategy).
The Senate Committee said Kemsa was enabled by weak oversight and laws that mandated the county governments to procure their medical supplies from Kemsa.
The report blames Kemsa for single sourcing the Covid-19 supplies and accepting deals that would lead to the loss of public funds.
Kemsa also irregularly utilised Universal Health Care (UHC) and the Kemsa capital budget to procure Covid-19 related items worth Sh7.6 billion without evidence of approval of the budgets by relevant authorities. In a number of the deals that the company got into, the medical supplies were procured at inflated prices.
The Senate did not find any evidence that procurement of the Covid-19 related items was guided by a market survey, despite the law requiring procuring entities to use the Direct Procurement method to ensure acquisition prices are fair and reasonable.
Senators wants the DPP and DCI to also investigate the companies that were awarded tenders by Kemsa to determine if there was any collusion between the Kemsa CEO, the board of management of Kemsa, and the directors of the companies.
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As a result, Kemsa is staring at Sh2.3 billion loss should the agency sell the supplies in its warehouses. “From the market survey on the affected stock items, the stock, if sold at current market prices, would only realise Sh4 billion resulting in a loss of Sh2.3 billion,” the report said.
The Kemsa Act, the report recommends, should be reviewed to ensure that counties are allowed to procure medical items from other entities.
Transfer of board chair
MPs investigating the alleged graft scandal at Kemsa, on the other hand, have protested the redeployment of Kemsa board chairperson Kembi Gitura to head the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).
President Uhuru Kenyatta moved the former Murang’a Senator to CA on the backdrop of raging claims of major corruption at Kemsa.
Yesterday, members of the Public Investment Committee expressed fury over the decision, saying it was an assault on the fight against corruption. The MPs said Gitura should have stayed at the agency until the ongoing probe was concluded.
The team chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said it may consider recommending Gitura’s recall from CA.
Suspended chief officer Manjari had, while appearing before the committee, mentioned Gitura, revealing that he was aware of the commitments that the agency entered with various suppliers for Covid-19 equipment.
“I know it is frustrating that this committee is busy investigating the matter when the board chairperson at the time is being promoted,” said Nassir.
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