Sh64b scandal leaves officials’ jobs on the line

Monday, July 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Former Attorney General Githu Muigai before the Senate last week. Photo/PD/FILE

Anthony Mwangi and Hillary Mageka

A report by a Senate Committee probing the controversial Sh64 billion Managed Equipment Services (MES) has put the jobs of  three top government officials on the line,  People Daily has established.

A source close to the committee said members had zeroed in on, former Health (now Transport) Cabinet Secretary  James Macharia, Lands Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri and project co-ordinator Morang’a Morekwa. Muraguri served as Health PS before he was moved to Lands.

Former Health Principal Secretary Khadijah Kassachon could also be asked to shed light on the matter.

The committee has retreated to compile the report, which should be tabled on August 4, the deadline set by Speaker Ken Lusaka.

The committee is investigating whether the public got value for money for the MES projects as various reports have indicated that some of the expensive equipment procured to counties are lying idle due to lack of qualified personnel to operate them.

When he appeared before the Committee, former Attorney-General Prof Githu Muigai accused Macharia and  Kassachon of ignoring his legal advice and going ahead with the signing of the final contract with five contractors.

In the letter to CS Macharia, Prof Muigai said he had reviewed all the relevant documents and, therefore, they should proceed with the contract.  

Last week, former Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleophas Mailu narrated to the Committee how he was left alone to deal with the controversy-ridden progamme , the two former principal secretaries, Muraguri and Kassachon, who worked under him giving him a very hard time and never offered  him any support.

Testimonies given by Mailu, Kassachon and PS Julius Segor could land the four officials in trouble as the committee writes its report.

Mailu told the committee that he never saw the MES document during his term in the ministry.

Mailu, currently Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, told stunned MPs that despite being under his docket, he was denied the crucial documents relating to its implememtation on acount that they are ‘top secret’. 

There are fears that there have been efforts to scuttle the committee, which is co-chaired by  Isiolo senator Fatuma Dullo and her Bungoma counterpart Moses Wetangula.

Targeted individuals

The source revealed that the nine committee members were already divided on how to vote with efforts being made to save two of the targeted individuals.

Yesterday, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said there have been efforts to scuttle the committee, but senators vowed  to fight off the attempts.

“It is true, there have been attempts to dart the committee’s work. First, they tried to steal a report tabled by former Health CS Sicily Kariuki and barring media from covering the sittings. We managed to fight off their petty plans,” said Kilonzo.

Kilonzo said it will be next to impossible to tamper with the committee’s findings since the outcome is already in the public. 

“The committee cannot hide what is already out in the public. Kenyans have heard and know who the culprits are,” Kilonzo added.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata told People Daily that they will look into the report soberly and give recommendations based on the findings.

“We shall look at the report once tabled by the Ad hoc Committee. We shall then make relevant recommendations,” said Kang’ata.

When he appeared before the Committee, Macharia, now the Transport CS, said the programme was frustrated by some governors who demanded they be allowed to procure the medical equipment instead of the national government.

Macharia who signed the MES contracts maintained that the programme remains the noblest programme towards realisation of universal healthcare.

“If it had been properly executed, it would have had such a positive impact. It would have allowed everyone across the country access quality healthcare,” Macharia told the committee.

Macharia and Muraguri could not explain the logic of leasing some basic equipment, readily available even in supermarkets at exorbitant prices.

Items like a stethoscope, which at most cost only Sh25,000, ended up being leased for Sh1.5 million.

Other items were clothes trolley that he noted were leased each at Sh1.2 million, equipment trolley at Sh1.28 million and a fridge at Sh1.56 million.

‘Macharia and then Kassachon ignored my legal advice going ahead with the signing of the final contract with five contractors,” Muigai told the committee last week.

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