Kemsa bosses spend 8 hours explaining loss of Covid cash

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Kemsa chief executive Jonah Manjari. Photo/PD/SAMWEL KARIUKI

Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) board members were yesterday grilled over the loss of Covid-19 funds at the State agency.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission interrogated six officials, including chair Kembi Gitura and suspended chief executive Jonah Manjari at the Integrity Centre. 

EACC head of communication Yassin Amaro confirmed the six were questioned in connection with the loss of funds.

“They reported to Integrity Centre at 9am and spent the whole day with investigators. They recorded statements on the expenditures relating to Covid-19. They left at around 5pm,” he said.

Their grilling sessions came after Manjari and the board members led by Gitura were last week also grilled by MPs to shed light on the loss of the Corona funds.

Appearing before the Health Committee of the National Assembly, Manjari cut the image of an innocent man who had conducted his duties diligently.

The man, whom his bosses Health minister Mutahi Kagwe and Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, had only hours earlier described as “an incompetent manager who blames his failings on others” came out fighting, denying all allegations thrown his way.

For instance, he changed his earlier position on procurement malpractices at Kemsa and explained that he was not coerced to award tenders to specific companies or individuals.

“We were not instructed to procure those items from those suppliers as had been alluded to earlier,” he told the committee in an about-turn from his earlier claims of being pressured by his bosses to award tenders to particular entities.

“As CEO, I did not work under any pressure; I did my work with my eyes open,” he proclaimed.

He told an attentive chamber that his 23 years as a medic were that of a distinguished professional who has had a clear career path. 

Manjari’s statement seemed to be a direct response to Kagwe who had during his appearance before the committee on Wednesday described the Kemsa boss as a poor manager who was trying to run away from his responsibilities.

Same committee 

“It is, however, not my job to tell anybody to commit any crime.  And in the event that I told a CEO to do something that is against the law, the normal thing for the government to do is to say - give me what you are telling me in writing,” said Kagwe

Gitura, who also appeared before the same committee put up a spirited defence for the agency, saying no money had been lost in the procurement of the PPEs.

He termed the said scandal at the agency as an imagination of a section of the media.

He told the committee that since March 2020, Kemsa received Sh2,181,934,518 from the Ministry of Health.

Of this amount, Sh1.5 billion was earmarked for the procurement of reagents and test Kits. Sh300 million has been received in full for procurement of locally produced re-usable face masks.

He said the procurement of the reagents and masks was done in collaboration with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).

Agency has also received Sh777. 7 million for procurement of testing and extraction kits.

On how the funds received by Kemsa have been spent towards mitigating the effects of Covid-19, Gitura said Sh1.5 billion has been spent on procurement of Home Pregnancy Testing slabs.

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