Kemsa scandal: Big names off the hook

Ivy Minyow

Ms Ivy Minyow Onyango, a director of Kilig Limited, when she appeared before the National Assembly Public Investments Committee on December 10, 2020.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation

Politicians and parastatal heads were mentioned in the Sh7.8 billion Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) Covid-19 investigation by Parliament but a report released last week spares them, raising many questions. 

And this is despite the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) recommending the prosecution of Accenture Kenya, Gadlab Supplies, Meraky Healthcare, Steplabs Technical Services, Wallabis Ventures, Shop n Buy and Kilig Ltd directors.

Kilig Ltd’s sole director is Ivy Minyow Onyango while Shop n Buy’s is James Cheluley. Gadlab is owned by Gladys Muthoni Thumbi and Dancun Kibiru.

The firms, their directors and Kemsa officials face charges related to the procurement and payment of supplies.

During questioning, more than 102 companies that traded with the agency openly admitted violating the law.

Kilig Ltd, which Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe has denied links to, nearly bagged an Sh4 billion tender even without experience in drugs and medical kits.

However, the report has no recommendations on Mr Murathe or former EACC chief executive, Halakhe Waqo, who were mentioned.

Mr Waqo helped Aszure Commercial Services get funds by acting as a guarantor in the Sh347 million KN95 masks tender.

Appearing before the committee in March, Mr Waqo said he was approached by a First Community Bank director to enable Aszure Commercial Services supply the items.

“I was an agent of funding a company that was contracted by Kemsa to supply the items. I was never a supplier of Kemsa,” he said.

The report says Mr Waqo was not a shareholder, proprietor or director of Azure Commercial Services.

Mr Murathe was accused of using his proximity to power to help Kilig Ltd force Kemsa or influence the agency give the Sh4 billion tender.

He told the lawmakers in April that he never benefited from Covid-19 tenders, adding that he only acted as a guarantor for Kilig and Centec.

Kilig was awarded a Sh4 billion tender to supply personal protective equipment to Kemsa. It then sub-contracted the work to Entec Technology Ltd, a Chinese firm.

Mr Chen Chao, a Chinese, told the team that he knew Mr Murathe as respectable person.

“Murathe is a high-standing member of society. In order to safeguard and guarantee Entech’s receivables under the contract, I requested him to be a guarantor,” Mr Chao said.

The committee in its report admits that Kilig Ltd’s Equity Bank account was opened to receive Kemsa proceeds.

“Of curiosity is the inclusion of Murathe as a signatory to the account in what was stated as to secure guarantee and payment from Kemsa after the supply of PPE,” it adds.

The committee report is to be debated by the House next week for adoption or rejection.