Mutahi Kagwe used to send instructions through SMS - Kemsa CEO testifies on procurement scandal

I was under a lot of pressure, sometimes being told who & when to pay for supplies

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a recent Covid-19 briefing

Suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari on Friday testified before the Senate ad hoc committee on Covid 19 which is probing alleged procurement irregularities in the agency.

During the questioning, Manjari said he bypassed some of the procurement procedures because he was under a lot of pressure from, among other people, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.

The CEO said the agency had not procured many of PPE equipment by the time the first Covid19 cases were confirmed in March 2020.

He said as the cases increased, he was put under a lot of pressure to supply some of the equipment which the agency did not have.

Manjari said he undertook emergency procurement procedures without approval of the Kemsa board after receiving instructions from Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and his PS Susan Mochache.

"We were told to distribute PPEs to various Covid19 hot spots. There was under a lot of pressure even though we did not have them. The instructions came from PS Susan Mochache as well as from CS Mutahi Kagwe. There is also a brigadier who was in charge of the emergency response team, I don't remember him.

"At one time, they came to Kemsa and gave verbal instructions that we must supply certain items failure to which they would take over our warehouse," Manjari said.

He added that the instructions sometimes included when and how much to be paid to which supplier of the Covid-19 items.

The CEO was also hard pressed some of the high prices of the Covid19 safety items such as an N95 mask being procured at Sh9,000.

"The market price as of March and April was really high because of supply and demand," the CEO said.

Manjari's testimony contradicted CS Kagwe's previous public position that he had never interfered in the internal operations of Kemsa.

I did not instruct anyone to award anyone a tender…I don’t know who is supposed to have sent instructions to Kemsa and identify individuals that are to be suppliers,” Kagwe two weeks ago.

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