At least 25 lobby groups have joined the push to have public officials who oversaw the plunder at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa), creating overnight millionaires swiftly investigated and prosecuted.
The groups also wants President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the nation on allegations of corruption at Kemsa and in county governments, which are putting at stake billions of shillings in donor funds.
The lobbyists who comprise civil society and non-governmental organisations, the private sector, professional bodies and trade unions in Kenya said on Monday said that they have noted with great concern gaps in transparency and accountability by government agencies charged with managing Covid-19 resources.
“These loopholes have led to the over pricing of commodities, purchase of substandard personal protective equipment (PPE), embezzlement of commodities including donated PPE, failure of the PPE to reach those who need it the most including healthcare workers on the frontline of fighting Covid-19, and misappropriation of public funds meant to procure protective gear and support vulnerable Kenyans against the impacts of the pandemic for instance the Kazi Mtaani programme,” the groups said in a statement.
The Nation, which broke the story, reported how Kemsa officials handpicked companies and handed them multibillion shillings contracts under the cover of the health crisis, setting the stage for the current scandal at the agency, which has already claimed several officials.
The activists want the Auditor-General to immediately conduct an independent audit of all funds advanced to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to speed up independent investigations on the already suspected cases of corruption at national and county levels.
“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) should ensure timely prosecution while the Judiciary should facilitate the speedy hearing and determination of these cases so that those found culpable are brought to book,” the statement reads, adding that the investigative authorities should set up a live dashboard on the status of all cases relating to Covid-19 corruption so that all Kenyans can monitor the progress.
The joint statement was supported by Amnesty International Kenya, Association of Professional Societies in East Africa (Apsea), the Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG), the Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (Creco), County Governance Watch and the Global Compact Network Kenya among others.