Expedite Kemsa probe, President Uhuru directs sleuths

Thursday, August 27th, 2020 00:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO/COURTESY

Mercy Mwai and Irene Githinji

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday  gave investigative agencies three weeks to conclude a probe into alleged corruption scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies  Authority (Kemsa).

Uhuru made the directive on the day he extended the dusk-to-dawn curfew and closure of bars by another 30 days.

He directed the Ethics and Anti corruption Commission (EACC), which has already commenced investigations into  corruption claims revolving around funds to fight Covid-19 pandemic ,to expedite  its work.

The president warned that  all persons found culpable  will be brought to book, irrespective of the public office they hold and their political or social status.

“Given the compelling public interest in the matter, the relevant agencies should expedite the ongoing investigations and conclude the same within 21 days from the date hereof,” he said.

His directive came just days after EACC Chief Executive Twalib Mbarak said that the procurement scandal will “shock” the nation due to the amount of money involved and its complex nature.

Yesterday, in his 11th address on the coronavirus pandemic to the nation from State House, the Head of State said  the nationwide curfew, that is currently in force between 9pm and 4am daily, had been extended by a further 30 days while the closure of bars and nightclubs would continue for a further 30 days.

Closing hours for restaurants and eateries was extended by one hour from 7pm to 8pm, effective midnight tonight.  Licenced hotels with residences were also allowed to sell alcohol.

Civic responsibility

“The closure of bars and nightclubs is continued for a further 30 days. However, the prohibition against the sale of alcohol by licensed hotels with residence is vacated.

In the next 30 days, bar owners, in consultation with the Ministry of Health will develop self-regulating mechanisms as part of their civic responsibility to their clientele, in order to allow their resumption,” he said.

 Then number of people attending  weddings and funerals, has also been reviewed from 15 people to 100.

The President’s directives came even as he said  the number of infections in the country is now at a manageable level as more recoveries are being reported than infections. 

Following the move, he hinted at a total re-opening of the economy if the infection rates falls to below five per cent.

Currently the positivity rate has fallen from 13 per cent in June to eight per cent this month, with hot spots such as Mombasa and Nairobi stabilising.

“This is very encouraging and it means that, if we keep our civic responsibility high, we have a chance to reach the five per cent positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for total re-opening,” said the President.

However, the President warned that it was not time for Kenyans to throw caution to the wind.

“I have mentioned in the past, we are fighting a war against an invisible enemy. And as we enter the sixth month of this war, we are also entering a phase known as the ‘Fog of  War’.

You fight to propagate yourself, your family and the environment that nurtures you,” he said. 

He added: And in this ‘foggy’ state, you also become aware that the government cannot police the morality of its citizens.

In fact, in the ‘Fog of War’, citizens while maintaining their liberties, scramble for their survival”.

Gradual shift

The President urged Kenyans to exercise civic responsibility, noting that there are no unbearable responsibilities in the face of a crisis like Covid-19.

“When I talk about ‘responsibility’ I do not mean “who carries the burden”. Responsibility is not a burden; it is a civic duty.

Instead of seeing it as something you carry, you must see it as a joyous task. It is a happy debt you pay to your fellow citizens for being a member of their community; the price you pay to propagate yourself, your family and country,” he said.

Despite attempts to flatten the curve, Uhuru said the pandemic has started to spread to the counties and rural areas despite the fact that the spread is slowing down in Nairobi and Mombasa counties.

He cited notable expansion of the health sector architecture in the counties, but stated the need to do more in order to cope with the gradual shift of this pandemic to the counties.

He ordered Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, in conjunction with the Chairperson of Council of Governors, Wycliffe Oparanya to constitute a National Reference Group on Covid-19, to review the efficacy of the response to the pandemic.

The group has also been  mandated to establish the Kenya Covid Vaccine Consortium, bringing together relevant stakeholders locally and internationally, to sharpen their focus on the development and testing of Covid-19 vaccine locally.

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