Tension is mounting in government after President William Ruto send a strong warning to government officials, following the latest Sh3.7 billion tender scandal at Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).
The move by the Head of State to summarily sack Dr Josphine Mburu as Public Health Principal Secretary, the Kemsa board and the suspension of the agency’s chief executive officer (CEO) Terry Ramadhani over the Kemsa mosquito net scandal has sent fear among senior government officials.
However, the opposition has insisted that the backstops with the Cabinet secretaries who hold the biggest responsibilities in their ministries.
On Monday, President Ruto cracked the whip at Kemsa and a day later, reorganised the PSs in changes that affected seven.
In a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, a furious President said he will not allow the pilferage of public funds and cautioned CSs to desist from malpractice.
“There was pin-drop silence in the Cabinet as the president articulated his point on corruption. The Cabinet was tense and everyone quiet, one of those moments and the air you do not admire in a meeting,” said a CS who sought anonymity.
According to sources, the Head of State was infuriated by intelligence reports that a family of a senior member of the Cabinet was involved in the bungled malaria nets procurement funded by the Global Fund.
The intelligence reports said the push by the family member of the Cabinet official saw the tender awarded to Partec East Africa Ltd and Shobikaa Impex Ltd out of the 16 companies listed.
The trouble with the tender was triggered by a letter written by the sacked PS dated February 21 addressed to Kemsa CEO pointing out what she said were inconsistencies in specifications for the nets in the Global Fund tender.
Ms Ramadhani, obliged in her response to the PS acknowledging that: “The specification...on technology misses the requirement number 2 “synergist piperonyl Butoxide(PBO) LLINs - Combination nets, which is inconsistent with specifications that were shared by MOH (Ministry of Health)-DNMP.”
However, a day later, the financiers, Global Fund, wrote a letter dismissing the justification for Mburu’s change of specifications. “The nets being procured are pyrethroid and not PBO, therefore the requirement for the PBO’s should not be included in the tender document,” said the financier
Global Fund decided to take up independent procurement, which eventually awarded the tender to Wambo.org. This saw the government lose about Sh400 million in earnings from the Global Fund tender to supply the ministry with more than 10 million insecticide-treated nets.
In the Cabinet changes, Ministry of Health PS Peter Tum (Medical Services) was moved to Sports while Correctional Services PS Mary Muthoni replaced Mburu as Public Health PS. Harry Kimtai who was the PS for Livestock Development took over from Tum at the helm of the Medical Services docket of MOH.