House team to grill Health chief Kagwe on Kemsa scam

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe at a past briefing. He has cautioned Kenyans not to drop their guard on Covid rules. Photo/PD/File

The Senate ad hoc committee on Covid-19 is divided on whether to summon suppliers who delivered equipment to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), which is facing graft allegations. 

While some members are pushing for all the 71 suppliers to be summoned to explain how they acquired the tenders, committee co-chair Senator Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia) has said he will not approve the summons.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe is also set to appear before the Health committee of the National Assembly over the Kemsa scandal.

Controversial deal

When he appeared before the ad hoc committee, suspended chief executive officer Jonah Manjari named Kagwe and PS Susan Mochache as the top government officers who were issuing directives on who should be awarded the tenders.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina told People Daily last week that the committee also plans to call all the 71 suppliers who delivered Covid-19-related equipment in the controversial deal, which has rocked the authority prompting the probe.

“We are running against time and must dispense with this matter at the earliest time possible. After meeting the board we will call the suppliers,” said Kina.

But Mbito said he will overrule the move to summon the suppliers, most of whom he said, had nothing to do with the scam.

“Some of the suppliers applied and won the tenders genuinely, we cannot use the committee to expose them as corrupt.

It won’t help,” said Mbito, who co-chairs the committee with nominated, Senator Sylvia Kasanga.

 But Kina said the committee plans to carry out a well-researched probe, which will unearth the real culprits of the scandal that has exposed the level of graft in some government institutions.

“We are warning that even if the Director of Public Prosecutions fails to prosecute the culprits, the Senate will initiate private prosecution. We are not resting on this matter,” stated Kina.

This comes even as foreign donors talked of withdrawing funds given to the country following the Covid-19 funds’ scandal.

Alleged corruption

The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and the Global Fund have written to the government expressing concern over the alleged corruption.

Global Fund gives Kenya Sh400 million annually to support HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria programmes that are expected to run for the next three years.

Donors cited financial impropriety at Kemsa as well as management and implementation of the grants given to the institution.

It is alleged that double pricing from suppliers led to a Sh7.7billion loss of public funds. 

The Covid-19 scandal has also created an internal crisis at the supplies agency, which now stands to lose up to Sh.2billion as it struggles to dispose of Personal Protective Equipment over high prices.

Kemsa is said to be unable to find buyers for the items that were allegedly purchased at inflated prices and now many of them could be about to hit their expiry dates. The agency is holding a stockpile worth Sh6 billion.

The board is seeking a green light from the Health Ministry to sell off the stock at market value of around Sh4billion to recoup its initial capital.

It seeks a re-capitalisation of Sh5 billion to cushion itself from the loss that would have been occasioned by such a write off should the Health Cabinet Secretary agree to it.

Kemsa has attributed the mess to the procurements that were allegedly done without its approval or that of the Health ministry.

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