Punish virus fund looters

What you need to know:

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta has had to give public assurances that those culpable will not be spared.
  • The biggest global public health crisis in 100 years since the Spanish flu is far from over.

The public has quite rightly been outraged that as the government grapples with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, some people have been scheming to loot the resources being mobilised to fight it.

Nothing could be more callous and this explains the mounting calls for thorough investigations.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has had to give public assurances that those culpable will not be spared.

And he has gone further to demand transparency in the tenders for the Covid-19 supplies. He has also directed that these be posted online so that all and sundry can monitor whether the country is getting value for money and also ensure that the process is fair to all the parties involved.

The biggest global public health crisis in 100 years since the Spanish flu is far from over. The numbers of infections and deaths continue to rise and it is clear that the pandemic will continue to exert pressure on the authorities and other agencies involved in trying to stem the tide. It, therefore, calls for even greater vigilance to stop the heartless thieves.

In the eye of the storm over the theft is the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), which is the sole agency mandated by the government to procure essential commodities for the public health facilities. Kemsa stands accused of breaching procurement rules and dealing with little-known companies and briefcase entities that have no capacity to deliver.

This is an all-too-familiar Kenyan story where public funds are brazenly stolen by well-connected people. One firm, whose tender has since been cancelled, was awarded a whopping Sh4 billion deal to buy some kits. There is evidence of a litany of inflated prices and other forms of manipulation for illicit gain.

Now that the names of some of the firms involved in the shady Covid-19 procurement have been made public, they should be pursued and the loot recovered, as the illegal beneficiaries face the law.