Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has responded to the National Assembly Health Committee on Wednesday saying he did not manipulate COVID-19 tender awards at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), through calls, text messages or emails to top official
Kagwe, while admitting that he issued policy guidelines, told a parliamentary committee investigating the management of COVID-19 funds that the ministry will not protect anybody linked to irregularities.
Suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari had said that at the time, Health PS Susan Mochache was directing his office to procure the items, they already had a list of companies that had the capacity to supply them.
Manjari had claimed when he appeared before the Senate Health and Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 that he received numerous calls, messages, and emails from top ministry officials to award tenders for the provision of various items.
While defending himself, Kagwe said “I was at a bit of a loss when I was told that I’m giving directives or I’m trying to influence or I’m putting pressure. Madam Chair I put pressure on each and every person in my ministry at that time.”
The CS argued that the pressure from his ministry applies equally to all staff when other matters have to be carried out.
The government has also denied claims that donations from Chinese dollar-billionaire Jack Ma were stolen and part of it smuggled to Tanzania.
“In fact, we have even been told that there is no COVID19 in Tanzania, so why would kits be taken there,” Kagwe said.
Ministry of Transport’s Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure had earlier told MPs that all the donations to the government are cleared by state agencies, dismissing claims that private entities had been mandated to clear them on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
“The Ministry of Transport role was limited in clearing to providing clearing services through the government clearing agency which was domiciled at the Ministry of Transport until May 11 this year, when it was transferred to the National Treasury,” he explained.
The committee chaired by Sabina Chege had earlier sent away top Transport ministry officials, saying the team was unprepared to respond to its questions.
The transport ministry was represented by Health CAS Chris Obure during the afternoon session.
He appeared before the committee to explain the ministry’s role in the clearing of Jack Ma Foundation donations.
Obure had told the committee that all the donations were cleared exclusively by the government clearing agency.