Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has terminated the appointment of members of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) board.
In a gazette notice dated Thursday, April 29, the CS revoked the appointments of Timothy Mwololo Waema, Bibiana K. Njue, Joel Onsare Gesuka, and Dorothy Otieno from the board.
Kagwe instead appointed Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Kiunge Ramadhani and Linton Nyaga Kinyua as the new board members for a three-year term.
USAID for the first time yesterday through a local TV station declared its stand on the ARV standoff, with US Secretary of State, Anthony J Blanken saying corruption at KEMSA was the elephant in the room as to why they are yet to release the Antiretroviral supplies.
“We have had an issue with KEMSA, the institution responsible for the distribution, and as you know very well, concerns in particular about corruption that I know the government is working to reform. We have an obligation to our own taxpayers when we’re spending their money to do it in a way that is accountable and fully transparent,” Blinken said on Wednesday.
A Senate report had also accused the Board of KEMSA of failing to oversee the operations of the management in the procurement of Covid-19 items.
The report blamed suspended CEO Jonah Manjari for having single-handedly run the show at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority leading to the Sh7.63 billion scandal.
The HIV/AIDS medication and medical supplies are still stuck at Mombasa Port with USAID saying the drugs will be in their possession until deliberations with the government over KEMSA scandals are “concluded.”
USAID and Kenya Medical Supplies Authority had a five-year contract that ended in 2020. USAID then asked the Global Health Supply Chain – Procurement and Supply Management — implemented by Chemonics and a consortium of partners — to procure HIV, malaria, and family planning commodities for Kenya instead of KEMSA.
KEMSA has been facing allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Covid-19 funds.
Kagwe has in the recent past stated that USAID decided not use the state corporation for distribution of the HIV drugs because it did not trust KEMSA.
“The government is actively working to address USAID’s “lack of trust” in KEMSA by “making changes in the organization that we are sure are going to satisfy the U.S. government and USAID,” the CS had said.
At the same time, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the appointment of Mary Chao Mwadime as the chairperson of the Board of directors of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority, for a period of three years.
Kenyatta officially revoked the appointment of James Kembi Gitura from the post, whom he had earlier appointed the chairman to the Communication Authority of Kenya board.
Last month, legislators raised concerns over Gitura’s appointment to the Communications Authority.
The committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said the appointment of the former Murang’a senator was in bad taste considering that investigation into the KEMSA scandal was ongoing.
Gitura had been the chair of the KEMSA board for close to two years, a period that was marred with allegations of corruption and fraud.
However, he instead suspended three top officials including Chief Executive Officer, Jonah Manjari, Director of Procurement Charles Juma, and Commercial Director Edward Mureithi in August 2020.
By Alice Gworo