Expedite Kemsa probe

Almost three years since the Sh7.8 billion Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) procurement scandal, the suspects are still at large. The agency paid out Sh4.93 billion for the shady supply of essential Covid-19 commodities at the height of the pandemic. And it still owes suppliers Sh2.9 billion.

A Public Investment Committee (PIC) report revealed that the prices of face masks and other items were inflated to steal public funds under the guise of urgent critical procurement to help curb the pandemic. None of the suspects, often referred to as the ‘Covid Millionaires’, has been arraigned yet the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has recommended the prosecution of 29 people. They include some public officials and directors and agents of the companies involved. They must not be allowed to get away with economic crimes, abuse of office and theft of public property, receiving bribes and neglect of duty.

The snail’s pace handling of this sensitive matter would appear to confirm widespread speculation that the culprits most probably have high-level protection. This has fuelled suspicion of a cover-up. A parliamentary committee plans to summon the Director of Public Prosecutions to explain why the suspects cannot be charged and yet the EACC has recommended that a former Kemsa boss, board members and some senior staff members be arraigned over the grand theft of the Covid emergency commodities.

The Committee on Implementation is concerned about the apparent frustration of the DPP’s prosecution bid only abetting corruption. Medical Services Principal Secretary Harry Kimutai was recently slapped with a Sh500,000 fine for providing unsatisfactory explanations on the status of the Ministry of Health’s investigation into the scam. The committee should enable the investigations into this callous theft to be expedited. The culprits must be flushed out and punished and the loot recovered.