EXPERT COMMENT

Covid funds: Nothing is sacrosanct in Kenya any more

Afya House has become a citadel of corruption.

In Summary
  • One of the biggest reported heists was in 2016, when the ministry lost Sh5 billion.
  • Reminds one of the theft of billions of shillings from donors meant to facilitate free primary education some years ago.
MORRIS ODHIAMBO
MORRIS ODHIAMBO
Image: COURTESY

Many Kenyans are waiting to see if any action will be taken against the culprits who stole the Covid-19 funds.

Some have asked Health CS Mutahi Kagwe to take political responsibility and resign. Many others are wondering if the culprits will simply be transferred, as is so often the case.

 

Nothing is sacrosanct in Kenya any more. One might be tempted to think that some sectors such as health are too important to experience the kind of looting that afflicts others. But no.

 

The Ministry of Health headquarters, named Mafya House by Kenyans tired of the looting, has for many years been a citadel of corruption. One of the biggest reported heists was in 2016, when the ministry lost Sh5 billion.

When I led Kenyans in a peaceful demonstration to the Ministry of Health in November 2016, I said, “Crooks in the ministry are stealing from babies and pregnant women, HIV and Aids patients, accident victims and cancer patients.”

Alas, the only action that was taken was to transfer the whistleblower, then internal auditor Bernard Muchere. This clearly emboldened the thieves. They know that they can act with impunity and are protected by the country’s political leadership.

The theft of the Covid-19 funds therefore does not come as a surprise. Neither is it a surprise that some of the main donors have threatened to stop providing support. Reminds one of the theft of billions of shillings from donors meant to facilitate free primary education some years ago.

Kenya refunded the stolen money instead of punishing the thieves.

Calls by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi for a commission of inquiry and Raila Odinga’s refrain for Kenyans to wait for investigations show two men who are out of touch with reality.

And as Kenyans hold their breath for action, which will never come, it might be a wise to remember the words of Nelson Mandela [quoting from US author and self-help guru Marianne Williamson], “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

 

The solution to Kenya’s impunity does not lie in begging for change.

 

The President of the National Civil Society Congress spoke to the Star