Nairobi Hospital tender battle now turns unhealthy

Dismissed Nairobi Hospital chief executive Allan Pamba. 

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A section of the board accused the faction led by the chairman of being overbearing.
  • Dr Pamba has since obtained an injunction stopping recruitment of his successor pending hearing of the case

The wrangles at Nairobi Hospital have taken a new twist after a section of the board of management called a special meeting on Tuesday to eject one of its members for publishing an article concerning the institution’s recent troubles.

Mr Robert Shaw, a Daily Nation columnist, wrote an opinion article titled A hospital’s split personality and the many unanswered questions, which was published on October 14. The board leadership now accuses him of going against Article 45 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

This comes a couple of weeks after the sacking of CEO Allan Pamba in controversial circumstances, splitting the board and triggering an ongoing legal battle. Mr Shaw, who said he was among the board members who were not consulted over the sacking, publicly backed Dr Pamba and raised governance concerns — including corruption allegations.

A section of the board accused the faction led by the chairman of being overbearing.

Dr Pamba took over as substantive CEO in March, following the controversial dismissal of Dr Gordon Odundo last year, which led to the forcing out of the board of the premier private hospital. The two dismissals have been followed by allegations that the CEOs resisted demands by board members pushing for tenders.

Dr Pamba has since obtained an injunction stopping recruitment of his successor pending hearing of the case

Special meeting

In a memo to Mr Shaw and signed by the chairman Irungu Ndirangu, the board is expected to convene a special meeting on October 27 to discuss the article he wrote.

“Dr Chris Bichange, vice chairperson board intends to move a motion for a board resolution to censure you for the said conduct, including a resolution to remove you from the office of a director under Article 45 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, for violation of your duty of confidentiality as a director to the company and ensuing prejudice to the company,” says the letter.

“Do hereby note that you have in law the right to defend yourself against removal from the board, at the said meeting. You may also furnish fellow directors through the chair your written defences before the meeting.”

In his commentary Mr Shaw raised various governance issues at the institution. He, for example, questioned the awarding of the Nairobi Hospital/United Nations Covid-19 Hospital, which is under construction.

The tender committee initially recommended China Wu Yi due to its much stronger technical capability but the board’s Finance Committee, recommended Quest Civil Engineers Ltd. Mr Shaw, in his article, put some directors on the spot over alleged impropriety.

Mr Shaw has told the Sunday Nation that he is a product of an election and whether he acted out of order as stated by a group of board members is for the Kenya Hospital Association members to decide.

Sensitive issue

“If they think I acted wrongly by writing that opinion article then they should call an Association meeting to deliberate on the matter and make a decision. The chair cannot call a meeting to fire me. It is illegal. I know I have touched a raw nerve but the decision is a joke,” he said.

He said the responsibility of the board is to abide by the obligations and be accountable to the public, tracing his woes to  speaking out against the Covid-19 Hospital tender swap.

“This is a highly sensitive issue to some board members, but we still must ask and get full information as to how the tender was changed and given to a jua kali firm as opposed to the outright winners of the tender,” he said.  “If asking about how the tender decision was changed is out of order, then they should be ready to write more memos. I have every right to question, particularly when we are not getting full information from the so-called relevant people.”

Mr Shaw has since taken legal action on the issue.

Yesterday, the chairman confirmed to the Sunday Nation that the meeting would proceed as scheduled.

“The meeting is on,” he said.


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