Lofty statements from different actors, can Kemsa get it right?

Kemsa board members Irungu Nyakera (centre), Andrew Mulwa (right) and Bernard Bett. [Courtesy, Standard]

On Monday, Kemsa board owned up to the mess within itself, revoked current list of prequalified suppliers and ordered review of ongoing contracts.

In yet another game of musical chairs, the new board chaired by Irungu Nyakera unveiled what they called a “comprehensive plan to eradicate corruption.”

The plan unveiled by Nyakera in an evening presser was couched in lofty terms of enhancing good governance, recapitalising the institution, re-engage with its strategic partners, re-purposing engagement with county governments and uplifting staff morale and productivity.

“Over the past months, Kemsa has faced significant challenges that have undermined public trust. We recognise the impact this has had on the perception of our organization, and we take these concerns seriously,” Nyakera admitted.

But in doing so, Nyakera’s team arguably resorted to same knee-jerk intervention of the past, some which landed their predecessors in the mess. The annulment of pre-qualified suppliers may mean well, but may land the authority in legal disputes.

“There is legal precedence in other institutions… There are contracts we were paying monies without anything being delivered. We were not party to those contracts, we cannot oversee them,” Nyakera said on Tuesday, when the risk was pointed to him.

Besides, in restarting the process afresh “to ensure only companies that provide value for money are pre-qualified” the authority came close to assuming that all but the present pre-qualified suppliers, are angels.

Insiders say it may as well end up with the same suppliers or attract even more rogue new ones.

“Immediately review all ongoing contracts that have been procured through single sourcing and monopoly action and are costly to the institution. Any contract that is found to not be providing value for money will be forwarded to the PPRA and the EACC for investigation,” the board said.

But Nyakera is a small man in the scheme of things. Before him, no lesser than the former Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, and his then boss President Uhuru Kenyatta made similar pronouncements, which fell on deaf ears.

Nyakera also announced they would introduce a lotting system in procurement that will set an upper financial limit beyond which no single bidder will win contracts. He said this would promote healthy competition by diffusing vested interests and racketeering and thereby ensure value for money.

He promised digitisation of operations, implementation of stricter financial controls, and regular audits and risk assessments to detect and prevent any potential irregularities.

“By streamlining workflows, implementing cost-effective measures, and leveraging technology, we will work towards reducing operational expenses while ensuring the uninterrupted supply of essential medical products to healthcare facilities across the country,” he said.

Nyakera’s board is working within strict timelines to undo the mess that has taken a decade to crystalise.

It has set for itself a one-month target of reviewing and auditing the human capital of the organisation with view to retaining qualified staff and redeploying them in line with departmental needs.

For an organisation which is admittedly operating with bloated staff, Kemsa has frozen staff, scaled down staff travel and placed all staff on performance contracts.