Uhuru disbands KEMSA board

KEMSA has been under investigation over the Sh7.8 billion Covid-19 procurement scandal which elicited public outcry since august last year. [File, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has overhauled the entire KEMSA Board of Directors.

The previous regime was sent packing on Thursday, April 29, in the wake of multi-billion-shilling scandals plaguing the medical supplies agency.

Mary Chao Mwadime will now take over from Kembi Gitura, who was moved to Communications Authority (CA) on March 17, 2021.

Gitura was appointed as CA’s Board chairperson by President Kenyatta despite ongoing investigations at KEMSA over alleged dubious tender deals amounting to Sh7.8 billion.

Little is known about the incoming KEMSA Board boss, Mwadime. A background search indicates she worked in Liberia as USAID’s Officer in charge of Acquisition and Assistance.

Her appointment was communicated in a Gazette Notice Number 4010, dated Wednesday, April 28.

“I have appointed Mary Chao Mwadime as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority for a period of three years with effect from April 30, 2021,” said President Kenyatta in the gazette notice.

Section 5 (1) Part A of the KEMSA Act grants the President powers to appoint the chairperson of the Authority’s Board of Directors.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe completed the Board’s composition by appointing the other four members.

The appointees include Capt (Rtd) Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Kiunge and Linton Nyaga Kinyua. Just like Mwadime, their term will last three years beginning April 30.

Mwadime’s team will inherit an agency marred by graft allegations.

In August 2020, KEMSA, which had been legally tasked with procuring Covid-19 protective equipment, caught the attention of the President after being put on the spot over looted Sh7.8 billion.

President Kenyatta, as a result, ordered speedy investigations into the embezzlement.

“In line with our stated public policy on zero tolerance to corruption, all persons found to be prima facie culpable because of those investigations should be brought to book, notwithstanding the public office they hold or their political or social status,” the President said in an August 2020 televised address.

To date, the said-investigations are still on, with no person convicted for the crimes.

President Kenyatta’s commitment to fighting graft was recently questioned, when he moved the then-KEMSA chairperson, Kembi Gitura, to the Communications Authority in March despite the graft file at the medical supplies agency still open.

Public Investment Committee (PIC) MPs had recommended that Gitura should be barred from holding a senior position similar to his KEMSA role until he gets cleared of involvement in the KEMSA rot.