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EACC: Kemsa probe will be completed 'soonest'

EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak at a past press conference. His agency has said it will investigate all officials suspected to have mismanaged Kemsa funds. [File]

There will be no sacred cow spared in the investigation of the multi-billion shilling Covid-19 tender scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has said.

Kemsa is accused of bungling a Sh7.7 billion tender for the emergency procurement of Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that was to be delivered by July 22, 2020.

EACC, who were responding to concerted calls for prosecution of officials involved in the scam, said it was "verifying" the corruption allegations.

The public strongly agitated for arrests after a media report highlighted suspected cases of procurement irregularities at the supplies agency.

"We wish to reassure the public that investigations are already going on to verify these allegations with a view of taking appropriate actions against officers who may be involved in accordance with the law," Philip Kagucia, EACC head of corporate communications, said in a statement.

The commission added that they had instructed Kemsa to suspend three officials to "allow for expeditious investigations".

The three are chief executive officer Jonah Manjari, Eliud Muriithi (commercial director) and Charles Juma (procurement director). They have since stepped aside.

"We urge the members of the public not to be carried away by sideshows that may water down and pre-empt the investigations," EACC said, adding that continued cooperation from the Kemsa board will "see the matter come to a conclusion soonest."

EACC noted it will escalate the war against both corruption and unethical conduct in line with the Constitution, the Public procurement and disposal act, the leadership and integrity act and other laws.

"There will be no sacred cows in this war," it said.

Meanwhile, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe defended Kemsa over the Sh300 million allocated for purchase of masks for the vulnerable.

Kagwe had been put to task by the National Assembly Health Committee to account for the usage of the funds after it emerged that no mask has been distributed.

The CS said procurement of the reusable masks was ongoing and will soon be distributed to the vulnerable families across the country.

"The ministry received Sh300 million in the fourth quarter of 2019/20 for procurement of reusable face masks that shall be provided to vulnerable persons in the country," said Kagwe.

"The funds were transferred to Kemsa and procurement of the masks is ongoing. Distribution of the reusable face masks shall be undertaken through the national government using county commissioners and chiefs to the identified vulnerable persons," Kagwe told the committee chaired by Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege.

He further dismissed reports that donations from Jack Ma were stolen and subsequently sold in Tanzania.