New Kemsa board takes over, faces tough house cleaning task

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 00:00 | By
Kemsa headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/PD/Pile

The new board of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) faces an uphill task of restoring faith in the body after formally taking office yesterday.

Chaired by Mary Chao Mwadime, the board has the task of restoring confidence in the management following the suspension of chief executive Jonah Manjari, Charles Juma (Director, Procurement) and Eliud Mureithi (Director Commercial Services).

The officials were suspended on the recommendations of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for their role in the scandal where the agency is believed to have lost billions of shillings in irregular procurement of Covid-19 related equipment.

The board is also expected to decide the fate of the acting  CEO Edward Njoroge who was adversely named in a report by the Senate Health Committee. It recommended that he be investigated.

Njoroge has already served the maximum two terms of six months each for an acting official in a State corporation.

The board was yesterday taken through orientation at the Ministry of Health headquarters by the Principal Secretary Susan Mochache.

Other board members are Captain (Rtd) Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Ramadhani and Linton Kinyua.

The new board was picked by President Uhuru Kenyatta after he revoked the appointment of former Murang’a senator Kembi Kitura as chairman. 

Uhuru also revoked the appointment of former board members Timothy Waema, Bibiana Njue, Joel Gesuka and Dorothy Atieno.

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Health recommended that investigative agencies look into Manjari, Juma, Mureithi, Fredrick Wanyonyi (Corporation Secretary/Director, Legal Services), Njoroge (Director, Operations) and Waiganjo Karanja (Director, Finance and Strategy).

The committee accused Manjari of masterminding a Sh7.6 billion scandal on the procurement of Covid-19 medical equipment.

It also accused him running a one-man show at the agency, leading to the scandal.

Gitura’s board was also accused of incompetence and failing to oversight the agency’s management. 

The report says the CEO took advantage of weak oversight by the board to flout procurement laws.

Possible collusion

“The CEO took advantage of the disconnect and lack of an effective mechanism to undertake procurement of Covid-19 related items without an existing budget and beyond Kemsa capital budget,” the report notes.

Manjari is accused of ignoring the Ministry of Health, bypassing the board and ignoring his juniors’ advise in the procurements.

The Senate report also claims the CEO could have colluded with private companies to dish out tenders.

It recommends that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions investigate the companies that were awarded tenders to determine if there was collusion between the Manjari, the board and the firms in contravention of procurement rules.

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