Amoth told to come clean on links with firms in Kemsa scam
Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Ministry of Health Acting Director General Dr Patrick Amoth was yesterday hard pressed to explain whether he had any links with some of the companies that benefited from the Sh7.6 billion Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) tenders.
Amoth, who had appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswammad Nassir, was pushed by Kaloleni Member of Parliament Paul Katana to come clean as to whether he had links with two specific companies known as Walabis Ventures and Rocks company and whether he pushed to have them awarded Kemsa tenders.
Katana read a text message allegedly written by Amoth to suspended Kemsa Chief Executive Jonah Manjari, asking him to issue commitment letters to Rocks Company.
“Is this number 0722……yours,” to which Amoth answered in the affirmative.
He continued; “Are you aware of this message that was sent from this number you have confirmed is yours.”
He went on to read the message; “Hi daktari (Doctor) please consider this company as per our discussion.”
But Amoth told the committee that he was not aware of the said company nor did he push Kemsa to give it any tenders.
“For Rocks, I did not push for any tenders to be given to the company,” said Amoth.
With respect to Walabis, Katana asked: “Do you have any interests with a company known as Walabis Ventures associated with Ms Catherine Wanjiku.”
But while confessing that he had worked with Wanjiku for the nearly one-and-a-half decades when he was a medical Superintendent, Amoth was categorical that he never asked Kemsa to give her any commitment letters to supply Covid-19 related materials.
“I know Dr Wanjiku. I worked with her for 14 years but never pushed to have her company awarded any tenders. In any case I am neither a director nor a shareholder of that company,” he said.
“I had a lot of conversations with the CEO regarding the state of commodities but I did not push for any specific company to be issued with any tenders,” he added.
But despite his denials, Amoth admitted that many people visited his office requesting to be given business opportunities to supply Covid-19 related materials.
He explained whenever such requests were made to his office, he always directed the said individuals to Kemsa on grounds that procurement of Covid related materials was not his function.
“Many people come to my office and they are still doing the same to look for business, this people include people with innovations developed locally, the people even come with letters but we referred all of them to Kemsa.
After sending them there, anything else that happened after that was beyond me as I was not aware of what was going on there,” he added.
Amoth said his office only had interactions with Kemsa on policy issues to understand the stocks and projections of the institution, but never gave them orders on what to purchase, as this is the role of the accounting officer.
“I have never directed the management of Kemsa to procure any PPEs or Covid-19 related commodities.
With regards to Kemsa stock, we never gave any directive, neither were we consulted on the quantities to be bought and neither am I aware whether Universal Health Care funds were used for this initiative,” he said.
He also admitted there was no value for money in the Kemsa procurements as more goods were bought without his advice being sought on the quantities to be procured.
“Yes, it is true that most goods are still at the warehouse, but if our technical advice was sought then we would have given the quantities that we required based on our projections and would not be having such huge quantities that we have now,” he added.
On the donations from Jack Ma Foundation, he said his role was purely to receive the commodities and had no other role to play on the matter.
“I am the one who actually received the donation because we had to have a government face.
After that the consignment was taken by the technical team and Kenya Airports Authority and other government officials, I do not know what happened after that.
This was just a ceremonial event and we could not go ahead and open and verify the quantities of the donation at the airport,” he said.