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Kemsa Scandal: Death Threats Issued

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Suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari.

Appearing before Parliamentary Committee, Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) officials revealed that they had received death threats as cartels pushed for awarding of COVID-19 supplies tenders.

Appearing before the parliamentary Public Investments Committee (PIC), suspended Kemsa procurement boss Charles Juma turned the tables on the suspended CEO Jonah Manjari claiming that he bypassed the procurement office to award tenders in excess of Sh2 billion for Covid-19 essentials to choice companies.

Juma told PIC that the commitment of eight companies, Regal Freighters (Sh270 million), Northlink GSC Ltd (Sh135 million), Meraky Healthcare (Sh140 million), Everywhere Distributors Ltd (Sh118 million), La Miguela Holdings Ltd (Sh180 million), Shop N buy Limited (Sh970 million), Medlife Biologicals Ltd (Sh240 million and Komtel Kenya Limited (Sh283 million) were all issued in Manjari’s office.

Singling out Shop N buy Ltd and Nanopay Ltd, the suspended procurement boss said they were approved and issued with commitment letters by Manjari without the knowledge of the procurement office.

Juma told PIC that Manjari was more involved in the procurement process than his office.

He claimed that the suspended CEO ignored his advisory on budget expenditure that had exceeded the allocation and instead went ahead and awarded tenders, without involving the procurement office.

He claimed that Manjari cautioned him on the individuals involved in the process, a caution he translated to mean a threat to life.

“He told me that I did not know the intrigues of the procurement.

“Several times I went into his office and he told me how I did not know who he was dealing with and how he was told that he could disappear. I perceived this a threat to my life,” Juma told the committee.

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He added: “I had no control of the whole procurement of Covid-19. If I did, we would not have been where we are now.”

Juma said he told the suspended CEO to discuss the overshot of the budget with suppliers and to cancel the procurements. Despite the advice, only one company’s letter was revoked and the eight were still awarded.

Juma also dragged the name of Nairobi Senator Sakaja into the Sh7.8B scandal.

He quoted a third party — his secretary (Pamela Kaburu)— as having informed him that the senator was at CEO Jonah Manjari’s office when the latter was pressuring them to draft a commitment letter for Shop N Buy.

The company is among 50 companies on EACC radar for their role in the questionable deals that have left Kemsa with a Sh6.2 billion stock it is unable to dispose of — unless at a loss.

Speaking under oath, Juma said the letter that handed the firm Sh970 million worth of supplies was backdated to April, yet it was 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.”

Juma said that when he questioned the secretary further, he was informed that the CEO’s personal assistant had asked for the format of the commitment letters.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has allayed the fears that the case that was to be probed under 21 days and extended to over 100 days has gone cold. The CEO Twalib Mbarak reiterated his stand that the investigations are at an advanced stage citing complexity of the case as the factor behind the delay.

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EACC had initially forwarded the names of six individuals culpable but the DPP was dissatisfied and returned the files for further investigations on October 2.

Kemsa is facing a possible loss of Sh3 billion following procurement irregularities in the purchase of PPE and face masks for Covid-19 emergency response.

The medical supplier has Sh6.2 billion stock of Covid-19 response items it is unable to dispose, unless at the said loss.


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