Covid Millionaires: Phonecalls That Won Ksh3.9B Tender

  • A Kemsa warehouse in Nairobi.
    A Kemsa warehouse in Nairobi.
    File
  • A few individuals received Ksh3.9 billion worth of taxpayers money after being awarded tenders through a series of phone calls at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

    Appearing before a special parliamentary committee on Wednesday, November 11, Kemsa managers gave detailed testimonies of how the gang dubbed 'Covid Millionaires' came into existence.

    The legal tendering process was thrown out the window as supply contracts worth billions were simply handed out via 'friendly' phonecalls.

    "Most of these companies were called to supply. There was no advertisement of the tenders," Kemsa's Procurement Manager Edward Buluma told the committee.

    A sitting in session at Parliament Buildings in June 2020.
    A session in progress at Parliament Buildings in June 2020.
    Daily Nation

    He further revealed that in some instances, some well-connected individuals simply walked into Kemsa headquarters in Nairobi and walked out with contracts worth hundreds of millions that did not exist on paper.

    Under government procurement rules, companies must be pre-qualified before being awarded a tender.

    According to the official, these tenderpreneurs were in cahoots with top officials. They approached them and asked if they were in need of Covid-19 related materials.

    Buluma said he was processing supply contracts and payments to these individuals for materials that were not even listed as needed 24 hours earlier.

    In the Covid Millionaires exposé aired by NTV's Dennis Okari, some senior Ministry of Health officials were accused of having issued phone instructions to Kemsa managers to award tenders to their private companies.

    This was corroborated during the damning Parliamentary session in which Kemsa's acting Chief Executive Officer Edward Njoroge also testified.

    On September 23, the High Court has ordered Nation Media Group to pull down the ‘Covid-19 Millionaires’ story from their social media platforms pending the hearing of a libel case against them.

    The acting CEO told the National Assembly's Public Investments Committee that the state agency was completely broke.

    Details of the shady deals came to light just days since senior Kemsa officials, who have since been interdicted, had approached the National Treasury for funds.

    The revelations made by the acting head explains how the parastatal ended up stuck with equipment worth Ksh6.3 billion, which it now says can only be disposed of at the current market price, resulting in huge losses for taxpayers.

    He told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdullswamad Nassir they have resigned themselves to the fact that they will now have to sell the PPEs at a loss.

    They expect to make losses in excess of Sh2 billion if they sell the equipment at the current market price.

    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe is expected to appear before the committee on Tuesday November 16, to respond to queries on how the billions raised to fight the pandemic were utilized.

    No arrests have been made since the incriminating feature was aired.

    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
    File