As officials from the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) fight embezzlement of Covid-19 funds allegations, it has now emerged that the state agency’s board chairman Kembi Gitura played a big role in the award of irregular tenders.
The agency is accused of having procured Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) at a double market price leading to a loss of billions with tenders said to have been awarded to companies, some linked to influential politicians, businessmen and brokers.
Despite denying that the board does not micromanage KEMSA’s operations while appearing before the Senate Health Committee last Friday, documents in our possession prove otherwise.
In an email communication to embattled Chief Executive Officer Jonah Manjari, the board chair directed the CEO to ignore the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) investigations and sign an irregular tender contract involving one the companies at the centre of the scandal.
“My position is that EACC has absolutely no role to play in the execution of the contract and your letter aforesaid will only cause undue delay and was not in the least necessary to write,” Gitura told the CEO in an email dated July 27.
“My instructions are that the contract be signed forthwith and in any event not later than noon tomorrow 28th July in the absence of a court order or other lawful reason.”
EACC had written to the agency on June 18 requesting documents in relation to Tender No. KEMSA/CONST/OIT 4/2019/20.
The Chairman wrote the CEO that EACC “has no authority in law or otherwise to ‘allow’ or, to use your words ‘give KEMSA a no objection’ to execution of the contract pursuant to the tender under reference.”
“Any opinion to the contrary is wrong both in law and in fact. You are no doubt aware of the legal consequences should the tender validity period expire not to mention the lawsuits any delay will expose KEMSA to, ” the chairman added.
With the chairman having thrown the suspended CEO under the bus in the ongoing probe, the board recently interdicted its director of legal affairs Fredrick Simiyu Wanyonyi in what critics say is the use of junior officers as sacrificial lambs in the theft of Covid-19 funds.
The board in its letter dated August 25, accused Wanyonyi of failure to advise the management and the board in regard to award of contracts.
The board also accused Wanyonyi of having divulged information to unauthorized persons through leakage of the agency’s reports, documents and communications.
Wanyonyi moved to court challenging his dismissal and the Employment and Labour Relations Court has since suspended his interdiction.
“The letter of interdiction dated August 25, 2020 is hereby stayed as it does not comply with paragraph 21.17 of the KEMSA Human Resources Polices and Procedures Manual which provides that interdiction is to be resorted to only where investigations are being conducted that may lead to an Officer’s interdiction and for a period not exceeding 3 months,” ordered the judge.