Parliament has cracked the whip and tasked anti-graft agencies to investigate and charge top Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) officials over loss of billions of funds meant to mitigate against the Covid 19 pandemic.
The National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) also directed that all the 112 companies that supplied Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to KEMSA refund over Kshs.3.9 billion they were paid for delivery of overpriced goods.

In the report submitted to the National Assembly, on use of Covid-19 funds, the committee recommended that Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigates the parastatal’s board members on their roles, severally or individually, with a view to preferring charges against them. Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is to investigates whether suppliers declared and paid taxes.

The PIC indicted the Board members and top officials of abdicating their responsibilities. In particular, the committee, chaired by Mvita Member of Parliament (MP) Abdulswamad Nassir, singled out former KEMSA Board Chairman Kembi Gitura and member, Joel Onsare, on the award of commitment letters to Wallabies Ventures Limited and Villa Surgical Supplies and Equipment Ltd, citing them for possible prosecution for violating the Public Officers and Ethics Act.

The committee also directed the anti-graft agency EACC to investigate and prefer charges against suspended KEMSA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jonah Manjari for signing commitment letters, “an instrument not recognised in law” and ignoring advice of board that resolved to suspend further procurement of PPEs because of budgetary constraints. He also should answer for procurements without a procurement plan, market survey and budgets, and for purchasing the PPEs at exorbitant prices.

Manjari also failed to regularly and formally update the board on the preparedness of KEMSA management to procure PPEs. He failed to initiate procurement through requisitions, didn’t conduct due diligence before issuing commitment letters, some suppliers were not pre-qualified.

Also recommended to face charges are the suspended Director of Procurement, Charles Juma, Director of Finance and Strategy, Waiganjo Karanja, and head of Legal Department, Ferdinand Wanyonyi, for failing to advise and abdicating their responsibilities to the CEO with regard to the procurements.

Further,22 out of the 112 companies that supplied goods were not pre-qualified, and also inconceivable is the fact that the companies ended up bidding a similar cost.

However, some entities such as Harleys and Nairobi Enterprises Ltd rejected a commitment letter and insisted on the use of procurement processes per the law.

KEMSA management ignored instructions by Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache to procure goods within its Kshs.758.8 million budget, and instead procured PPEs worth Kshs.3.98 billion under the World Bank funded Universal Healthcare project, over-committing Ksh. 2.2 billlion. Gitura went ahead to use the funds despite the PS turning down his written seeking permission to re-allocate the UHC funds.

Public finance management laws were dis-regarded, PPEs were single sourced or tenders influenced. Prices were inflated, while tenders were issued to unqualified companies, causing loss of billions under guise of emergency procurement, an explanation the MPs rejected.

The Board was disbanded, while the senior management was suspended awaiting outcome of the probe. The EACC as well as the Director of Public Prosecution are already working on the matter to ensure that the culprits brought to book.

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