The much-publicized COVID-19 supplies probe at the national drugs supplies agency has taken a new twist after it emerged those charged with oversight authority, legislators, are the key masterminds of massive heist earlier blamed on legitimate traders.
The Informer can authoritatively reveal that Committee on Health chairman and Trans Nzoia County Senator Dr Michael Mbito is associated with one of the eight firms singled out to have irregularly benefited from the critical supplies.
A day after Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja was implicated into the Sh7.8 billion Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, (Kemsa), The Informer has learnt political operatives adversely mentioned have gone a notch higher to divert the true narrative.
In what points to a coordinated heist ploy, at the time, Sakaja served as the chairperson of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19while Mbito still held his Senate Health committee chairmanship pulling strings for the lucrative deals.
Charles Juma the suspended procurement director mentioned the lawmaker’s name when he was grilled by the Public Investments Committee on Tuesday.
He quoted that his secretary had informed him that the senator was at CEO Jonah Manjari’s office when being pressured to draft a commitment letter for Shop N Buy.
The Shop N Buy company is amongst the 50 companies being investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for their role in the questionable deals that have left Kemsa with Sh6.2 billion stock it is unable to dispose of unless at a loss.
Charles Juma said the letter that handed the Shop N Buy firm Sh970 million worth of supplies and was backdated to April but processed in June.
“The commitment letter for Shop N Buy was raised on June 5. The CEO called my secretary and instructed her to prepare the letter and backdate the same to April 30.”
He also said to the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir that eight firms were awarded tenders without his knowledge afterwards.
The companies that were issued with supplies letters in Manjari’s office included La Miguela Holdings that supplied 20,000 PPEs worth Sh180 million, Shop and Buy that supplied 100,000 PPEs and 100,000 N95 masks for Sh970 million.
Others were Medilife Biologicals Limited that supplied 20,000 three-ply tie masks, 200,000 N95 face masks, and 20,000 face shields all worth Sh240 million as well as Komtel Kenya Limited that supplied three million patient ventilators, 19,000 N95 masks and 20,000 three-ply masks for Sh283 million.
The rest are Regal Freighters which supplied 60,000 three-ply face masks at Sh270 million, Northlink GSC Limited which supplied 30,000 three-ply masks at Sh135 million, MerakyHealthcare which supplied 700 N95 masks worth Sh140 million and Everywhere Distributors Limited which sold 10,000 PPEs, 10,000 eye protection goggles, 20,000 respirators and 10,000 face shields for Sh118 million
Juma added that he was away from the office when his secretary identified as Pamela Kaburu informed him that she was called by the CEO to prepare the Shop N Buy letter.
“When she got there, she found Senator Sakaja seated there. I don’t know whether the letter was for the senator,” he said when prodded further.
Maragua MP Mary Wamaua said the secretary be called to enable the committee to get the full picture.
“We need to invite the secretary. She knew she was committing an offence. We need to invite her so that we confirm the allegations.
“It seems there were big men and women in this country whom the CEO was issuing letters against the advisory for no further commitments,” Wamaua said.
The officials claimed that Manjari ensured that WalabisCompany that was associated with a Dr Wanjiru was awarded a tender to supply 100,000 PPEs. But it is the tender awarded to Shop and Buy Company worth Sh970 million that became a subject of heated debate in the committee after Juma said that Senator Sakaja sat in Manjari’s office when the commitment letter was being processed.
When the Senator, Nairobi County was asked for comment, Johson Sakaja said he was at Kemsa in his capacity as then chairperson of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19.
The committee is seeking to unravel the faces behind the mess that has caused Kenyans Sh2.3 billion loss in the purchases.
By Christabel Airo