Kemsa saga deepens after committee invites sleuths
Woes facing embattled Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache and suspended Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) boss Jonah Manjari deepened yesterday after MPs directed investigative agencies to probe and institute legal action against them for the irregular expenditure of Sh7.6 billion Covid-19 funds.
Members of the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Health chaired by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege also asked the investigative agencies to probe the board chaired by former Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura.
MPs also called for a total overhaul of the entire board within the next 30 days. They accused it of failing to give guidance and directions to the Kemsa management in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) undertake investigations into the role of the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health on disputed procurement processes at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority and take appropriate legal action where necessary,” reads the report in part.
“That the Director of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission undertake investigations on the suspended Chief Executive Officer,” it went on.
The report wants Mochache investigated over her role in the procurement processes at the authority while Manjari should be investigated for irregular and unauthorised expenditure of funds through procurement of Covid-19 related Health Products and Technologies (HPTs).
Manjari should also be investigated for allegedly undertaking procurement beyond the approved budget as well as undertaking procurement without an approved plan.
Manjari, the report noted, failed to follow laid down government procedures by writing directly to the National Treasury soliciting for budgetary support worth Sh5.1 billion for Covid-19 interventions before consulting the parent ministry.
They also accused Manjari of failing to provide evidence that he sought the approval of the board before requesting for budgetary support from the National Treasury, which amounted to insubordination and contravention of the Kemsa Act as well as the public officers’ code of ethics.
In a damning report, the MPs also asked the DCI and EACC to probe Kemsa’s head of Procurement, suspended Head of Commercial Services, the head of Finance, head of Operations, head of Legal and all staff members who directly got involved in the impugned procurement processes and handling of donations at the agency and appropriate remedial action be undertaken against them.
The recommendations come just a day after Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, in a special audit report, indicted Mochache and Manjari over the irregular expenditure of Covid funds.
Gathungu, in the report tabled in the Senate, details how the agency violated procurement laws awarding huge tenders to briefcase companies and overspending against budgetary allocations.
She also advised the Kemsa management to withhold any further processing of Covid-19 related claims until an independent audit is conducted.
The Kemsa board had suspended Manjari, Procurement Director Charles Juma and Director for Commercial Services Eliud Mureithi, to pave way for investigations.
The two have recorded statements with the EACC whose report has since been forwarded to the DPP for directions.
“The Special Audit, therefore, established that a total of Sh8,388,872,706 Covid-19 related items were irregularly procured using retrospective direct procurement since the guidelines were not adhered to,” states Gathungu.
And yesterday, the legislators also asked the DCI and EACC to undertake in-depth investigations of any irregularities on all companies including the 83 companies that were awarded tenders with regards to the disputed Covid-19 procurement and institute relevant action against those companies found to have contravened the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 and any other applicable laws.
Kemsa engaged the 83 suppliers to supply various Covid-19 related Health Products and Technologies (HPTs).
MPs directed that upon conclusion of relevant investigations, any company involved in the disputed Covid-19 procurement and found to have contravened the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 and engaged in other malpractices should be blacklisted and barred from doing business with any government entity.
“That the Kenya Revenue Authority within 60 days of the tabling of this report, undertake an audit on all companies including the 83 companies that were awarded tenders by the Authority in the disputed Covid-19 procurement,” reads the report.