Kemsa manager ‘wailed after a call from above’
A parliamentary investigating alleged theft of funds at the Kenya Medical Supply Authority (Kemsa) yesterday heard how top managers received night calls to backdate tenders awarded to influential individuals.
Appearing before the Public Investment Committee (PIC), Pamela Kaburu, a personal secretary to the Director of Procurement at Kemsa, Charles Juma said her boss used to receive calls from the Chief Executive Jonah Manjari late at night and during off days and even while on leave to sign commitment letters for tenders.
“My boss was under intense pressure. He used to receive calls from the CEO to sign commitment letters and backdate them without asking any question,” Kaburu told the committee.
She said at one time she found her boss crying in his office and when she asked what the problem was, he said he was prepared to quit his job since he would not withstand the pressure coming from his boss.
“I was shocked to find Juma crying in his office. Bitterness was written all over is face.
As I pleaded with him to calm down, he explained how he was being tossed around to do things he knew were unlawful,” she told the committee chaired by Mvita Member of Parliament Abdulswamad Nassir.
She also revealed how Manjari asked her to show his secretary a template of commitment letter and how the letters are drafted.
Kaburu told the committee how she was asked by the CEO to draft a commitment letter for a Sh900 million tender awarded to Shop N Buy Company and backdate it from the month of May to April.
“Juma was off duty that day when the CEO came to my office and told me to draft the commitment letter for the said company. I did so as he waited in my office,” she narrated.
“I explained to Juma when he reported the following day. He just took to his seat and broke down in tears,” she said.
Asked by Nassir whether she knew individuals behind the companies that benefited, Kaburu said there were many people including senior politicians who frequented the agency offices seeking for the tenders.
“Did you at any given time spot Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja in your offices of its precincts?” asked Nassir.
In response, Kaburu confirmed seeing Sakaja several times, but could not confirm whether he was pushing for a tender or not.
And yesterday, acting director of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Pauline Opiyo denied ever writing a letter to Kemsa approving direct procurement of Covid-related equipment.
“What you have is a forgery; I never approved direct procurement of the equipment as alleged,” Opiyo told the committee.
Opiyo further told members that the commitment letters issued by Kemsa is not a requirement in procurement law.
“There is nothing like commitment letters in procurement laws. I first heard about it at Kemsa,” Opiyo said.
Manjari, Juma and Muriithi are on suspension to pave way for a probe into Covid-19 procurement by the state agency.
The committee is investigating the Sh7.6 billion Kemsa scandal after a special audit report on Covid-19 funds conducted by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu revealed there was huge misappropriation of funds at the authority.