Kemsa purge: Inside Peter Tum, Josephine Mburu turf wars

Josephine Mburu and Peter Tum

Principal Secretary Peter Tum (right), who has since been moved to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports, was in charge of Medical Services, while former PS Josephine Mburu (left) was in charge of the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

The splitting of the Global Fund into two has exposed the fight between two arms of the Ministry of Health for the control of billions of donor funds. 

According to information, the Nation is privy to, former Principal Secretary Peter Tum, who has since been moved to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports, was in charge of Medical Services, while former PS Josephine Mburu was in charge of the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards.

It all started when the two were sworn into office in the middle of the current financial year and a resolution was made that Mr Tum would be signatory to all the Ministry of Health documents. 

This did not sit well with Dr Mburu who, in a Senate Health Committee meeting held in Mombasa, held a separate private meeting where she claimed that she was “just a flower girl” at the ministry and that even dockets within the ministry were being signed by Tum. 

An insider revealed to the Nation that there had been a rift between the two PSs before a reshuffle was effected that saw Dr Mburu sacked and Mr Tum moved to the Sports docket. 

“These two were never in a good working relationship. Most of the donor funds were under Dr Mburu’s docket, so she was seen to be more powerful than her counterpart,” the insider claimed. 

Considering that the public health docket controls all the donor funding for Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV, there were complaints that led to the decision to split the programme.

“HIV funding was being handled by Mr Tum at the Medical Services while Malaria and Tuberculosis remained under Dr Mburu. They had “agreed” to share the docket but in the real sense, this was a fight to control resources,” the insider said. 

Universal Health Coverage, managed equipment service and Kemsa were all under Mr Tum, the source added.

The Sh3.7 billion tendering process was said to be marred with interference, which saw Dr Mburu lose her job.

From the documents seen by the Nation, she was accused of tampering with specifications provided by the Global Fund on the tendering process of the long-lasting mosquito nets.

Dr Mburu directed then Kemsa CEO Terry Ramadhani to re-advertise the tender, citing inconsistency in the process of tendering, which was extended by 14 days.

Inconsistencies flagged

According to a letter by Dr Mburu, she indicated that there was inconsistency in the specification for long-lasting insecticide-treated nets for the mass net campaign 2023/24.

She wrote that the advertisement of the tender lacked some key specifications that had initially been shared by the Ministry of Health, Division of National Malaria Program. 

“The specification, insecticide impregnation on technology, misses the requirement “Synergist Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO) LLINs combination nets, which is inconsistent with the specifications that were shared by MOH-DNMP,” says the letter by Dr Mburu. 

She continues: “The purpose of this letter is to ask Kemsa to rectify the error and fast-track the procurement process to ensure timely delivery and distribution of the nets to protect the population at risk of malaria.”

Ms Ramadhan extended the tender to allow room for clarification and modification of the tender and submission. 

“Kemsa is in receipt of the letter dated February 21, 2023, from the Ministry of Health, State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards office of the Principal Secretary, citing inconsistency in specifications,” she wrote. 

“In my view of this and in order to identify the error that has been identified before the closure of the tender dated February 23, 2023, we have extended the tender closing date by another 14 days to March 10, 2023, to allow room for clarification, modification of tender and submission of the of the same.”

After the Nation had revealed the scandal, last week on Wednesday, Mr Tum travelled to Geneva for talks with the Global Fund on the decision to move the procurement to the agency’s online portal, Wambo.Org.

The Nation has learnt that there was no solution to this. Mr Tum travelled back to the country on Sunday and on Monday, Dr Mburu and eight others were sacked.

Following the series of blunders and selective application of tender rules during evaluation, the Global Fund has moved procurement to its online portal,, in a bid to have the treated nets supplied on time.