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Walk the streets and it’s possible to stumble on one juicy tender

By Brian Otieno | December 13th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

James Njuguna has busted the 'education is the key to success' myth. The trick, it turns out, is to be walking at the right place at the right time.

Another important success factor, as Njuguna confirmed to the Public Investments Committee (PIC) on Thursday, is the ability to eavesdrop.

Go to school, they say, and be a doctor. No one ever mentions anything about spending half your life on the streets hoisting placards and screaming your lungs out for a raise that never comes.

And if you needed more convincing that education is overrated, Njuguna–hundreds of compositions later from his school days–only had to pen two sentences to strike gold.

Njuguna’s Sh180 million fairytale had many dreaming that they, too, could walk their way into riches. Many more, however, regretted they had not been walking often enough, especially now that Kemsa’s tenders heist is under scrutiny.

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But anyone who has been following the unfolding scandal knows that they have to keep walking and join every crowd they come across.

As much as we may admire Njuguna’s walk to riches, his isn’t the only way to shed off poverty. Kemsa’s acting CEO Edward Njoroge (pictured) recently affirmed that connections, too, worked wonders.

His assurances were confirmed by one supplier who appeared before the Senate Health Committee on Monday.

When he appeared before the PIC, Njoroge said that the medical supplies agency awarded tenders to people who called to claim that they could supply personal protective equipment.

Again, the ongoing investigation shouldn’t scare you off from dialling Kemsa’s number and claiming to sell similar merchandise. It helps if you can reach the CEO directly and call in a favour or two.

Pamela Kaburu, an administrative officer at the agency, told the PIC on Tuesday of the disagreeable things she was allegedly forced to do by suspended CEO Jonah Manjari.

She confessed to backdating a letter that saw one firm awarded a Sh900 million tender 'as directed by the CEO'. "I couldn’t question the CEO,” she said.

Now imagine the kind of strings you could pull if the CEO was your friend. A backdated tender would be the only document standing between you and the moneyed class.

But it would be wrong for me to share secrets on how to milk the Kemsa cow without warning you that many suppliers are yet to be paid because those teats are dry.

Also, landing on the Kemsa list will earn you a trip to Bunge where voices are ever frail, faces are constantly sweating, and hands always tremble.

In all their appearances before Bunge, Kemsa officials, besides trading blame, have cited urgency as the reason for purchasing the PPE that is keeping their warehouse warm.

MPs probing the matter have refused to buy the 'top priority' story. Their concerns arise from the assumption that Kemsa’s warehouse did not require the PPE. They could be right, given that the warehouse, despite having more masks than it needs, has not worn one yet.

But instead of ranting in their committee rooms, they could perhaps report the matter to the police. The Kemsa warehouse deserves more than a proper flogging for its brazen defiance.

It should know that the Government has found it more deserving of facemasks than healthcare workers. The least it could do is show some gratitude.

James Njuguna Kemsa Tenders
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