Anxiety at Kemsa ahead of urgent workers meeting

Thursday, November 4th, 2021 00:01 | By
Acting Kemsa chief executive Edward Njoroge when he appeared before a parliamentary committee, recently.Photo/File

Anxiety gripped the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) yesterday after the management called a mandatory staff meeting this morning.

Acting chief executive officer Edward Njoroge in an internal memo asked all staff members to attend what he called, “a mandatory enterprise-wide internal meeting via zoom.” 

“The meeting will take place on Thursday, November 4, starting at 10 am. The link will be sent shortly. You will be required to sign in with your name, staff ID and the national ID,” read the letter.         

The ministry of Health has ordered mass sacking of staff at the troubled state agency a move no government official was willing to discuss.

A source told People Daily that anti riot police had already moved into the authority main depot ostensibly to intervene should the affected staff turn rowdy.

Personnel from the National Youth Service (NYS) will be deployed at the authority depots nationwide for a two month period as the management engage in the employment of new staff members.

State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC) has already recommended the sacking of nearly half the state agency’s workforce with an insider putting the number of affected employees at 920.

Sought statement

Sacking letters were being drafted yesterday and will be distributed after the morning meeting. The committee’s mandate is to advise the government on all matters pertaining to the general administration of state corporations.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino waded into the matter by seeking a statement in Parliament from the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to explain the mass sackings, majority of whom he claimed are his constituents.

“The statement is ready, we cannot allow our people to suffer in the hands of the misguided board and ministry officials,” Owino confirmed.

Efforts to get comments from Kagwe or the Principal Secretary Dr Susan Mochache did not bear fruit as calls to their phones went unanswered.

A source privy to the goings-on at the agency toldPeople Daily that the board had couched the mass sacking as part of a “restructuring” exercise to conform with the requirements of the law governing state corporations and semi-autonomous agencies.

“The process started without the involvement of stakeholders who are the staff. The board and the ministry team and the SCAC officials met in Naivasha last month where the idea was mooted,” said the source.

It was decided during the meeting that a clean-up be implemented to bring on board fresh blood to revamp the authority.

The resolution was adopted during a meeting held last week in Mombasa and chaired by Kagwe where it was resolved to declare nearly half the Kemsa positions redundant.

There is anxiety among the staff since they have not been informed of the impending sacking and are only hearing from some sources within the management,” said an employee privy to the details.

In his question to Kagwe, Owino sought an explanation behind the rationale for sacking most workers including cleaners.

“What are the steps the ministry is taking to ensure that those who will be affected by such irrational moves are fully compensated and allowed to continue with their normal lives,” reads the statement.

Owino wants Kagwe to state the procedure the ministry is going to apply to lay off workers and what happens to those that have loans with financial institutions.

 “The CS should explain whether his ministry is prepared for the many court cases that will emanate from the move he has taken,” reads the statement.

The authority has been mired in corruption scandals that prompted the termination of the appointment of members of the board by Kagwe.

Former top managers including the chief executive Jonah Manjari, Commercial Director, Edward Mureithi and Procurement Director Charles Juma were all suspended pending investigations following the Kemsa heist where over Sh8 billion was lost.

The scandals also led to suspension of funding by international donors, who included The Global Fund that said Kenya risks losing Sh48 billion if corruption investigations at the agency are not completed and changes made to ensure transparency.

Following the so-called Kemsa Covid heist, Kagwe revoked the appointments of Timothy Mwololo Waema, Bibiana K. Njue, Joel Onsare Gesuka and Dorothy Otieno from the board.

In their place, he appointed Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Kiunge Ramadhani and Linton Nyaga Kinyua for a three-year term. The board’s chairperson Kembi Gitura was also removed in the wake of the heist.

More on News