ON THE SPOT

Senators start probing procurement mess at Kemsa

EACC is also investigating the parastatal's top officials

In Summary

• The investigations will establish if the Kemsa management plundered public resources in sourcing for expensive equipment.

• Kemsa has been in the spotlight after it emerged that the officials dished out tenders to mysterious entities under the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kemsa chief executive Jonah Manjari Mwangi .
COME CLEAN: Kemsa chief executive Jonah Manjari Mwangi .
Image: FILE

Top Kenya Medical Supplies Authority officials are likely to be in more trouble after a Senate team started investigating alleged irregularities in the procurement of Covid-19 equipment.

The Health committee said its investigations will establish if the Kemsa management plundered public resources in sourcing for expensive equipment at a time when the country has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Already, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has recorded statements from CEO Johan Manjari and top managers.

 

Committee chairman Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia) said their investigations will be broad and seek to bring to book all those involved from the procurement, approvals, companies and other government agencies involved in the scandal.

“A lot of issues have come up in the press and we need to know what has been happening. When we heard about overshooting of the prices, we got concerned,” Mbito said.

Kemsa has been in the spotlight after it emerged that the officials dished out tenders to mysterious entities under the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This came hot on the heels of an audit that exposed procurement and financial irregularities that put at risk more than Sh100 billion of donor funds and taxpayers' money.

Kemsa procurement director Charles Juma raised concerns over procurement of coronavirus items in a leaked memo.

Juma noted that he had scrutinised and analysed various commitment letters issued to suppliers of Covid-19 items and their delivery timelines show irregularities which he blamed on the CEO.

On Tuesday, the Kemsa boss was before the Senate committee at the start of the investigations. However, the meeting was adjourned after Manjari failed to provide documents sought by the panel.

 

The nine-member committee, in a July 3 letter to Manjari, demanded tender documents for procurement done between financial years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

They include all submitted bids, tender opening minutes, tender evaluation minutes, due diligence reports, payment vouchers, contract agreements and inspection acceptable certificates.

The committee sought a comprehensive list of all Covid-19 related items procured including the supplies of goods and services, details of procurement methods used, the cost of all procured items and all payment documents relating to contracts awarded.

The documents were supposed to be submitted by July 13. However, Kemsa only sent part of the requirement documents.

“I had talked to the chairman of this committee and agreed that I submit the Covid-19 related documents because the others are bulky,” Manjari said.

But the committee rejected his explanation, terming such talks as personal and threatened to invoke the provisions of Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Committee to impose sanctions on him for "refusing" to submit documents.

“Some of the documents were sent but they dilly-dallied. They also did not send what we asked for. We needed these documents in time so that we can look at their authenticity,” nominated Senator Millicent Omanga said.

Narok's Ledama Olekina said: “This issue of Kemsa is very fluid. There is an audit by USAID and procurement of items at Lab and Allied which we understand the prices were exaggerated.”

 

- mwaniki fm