MURDER: Kenya’s COVID-19 Millionaires Exposed After Uhuru Intervenes


The Kenya Medical Supplies Agencies headquarters in Industrial Area Nairobi. PHOTO/DAILY NATION


NAIROBI, Kenya|SHIFTMEDIA| As over 70,000 Kenyans get infected with the deadly Covid 19 and over 1000 dead, unscrupulous “Corrupt” persons are taking advantage to enrich themselves.

Kenyans have labeled them “The Covid Millionaires”. The man to be applauded is Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta who three months ago ordered for public display of all tenders awarded to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

This presidential directive has been respected, unveiling scores of tender scandals that has rocked Kenya.

In Uganda at least Ugx 8 trillion COVID 19 funds (donations) is yet to be accounted for. The forensic audit on food relief, the cash and vehicles that were donated by individuals and local companies is yet to be conducted.

Though a few officials from the Office of the Prime Minister were arrested and charged for inflating tender prices for relief items, like posho and beans, the “Big fish” are yet to be apprehended.

Though the nation was in lockdown for some time, the “Mafia Gang” lured their way inti prompting the COVID 19 National Task Force to have the hardware shops so expansion of skyrocketing buildings would commence with ease.

A tour around Kampala and its suburbs gives a clear picture (regarding high rising structures) of the amount of money that was squandered from Covid 19 funds, either from highly inflated medical supplies, or through relief payments to illegal beneficiaries and powerful individuals rigging lucrative Covid-19 tenders.

Special audit investigations will unearth the amount of money lost due to fishy procurement of  personal protective equipment (PPE) and diversion of aid money meant for vulnerable people. The masks donated by Alibaba Founder Jack  Ma is yet to be traced.

Leave alone the Ugx56 bn that was allocated for masks for all Ugandans aged 6 and above.

To-date- the exact cost of a Covid-19 testing kit remains uncertain, with initial test kits going in for $65 (Ugx245,000) before it was reduced to $40.

Kenya leads the pack

It is similar claims of price inflation that have caused public outrage in Kenya and triggered an investigation.

In the wake of the scandal alleging shadowy companies were rewarded lucrative tenders, President Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Health to make public all the tenders procured by Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).

Two separate investigations into the alleged theft of consignments of PPE from Alibaba founder Jack Ma and the Chinese Government are ongoing.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) is fighting accusations it gave out multi-billion shilling tenders at inflated prices and it’s now stuck with costly supplies whose market value has fallen drastically.

One firm caught up in the saga is Kilig Ltd, which in January had secured a $37 million offer to supply hundreds of thousands of PPEs. Each kit was to be supplied at an inflated cost of $83 from the then market price of $41.

The complete kit includes N95 masks, body suits, goggles, waterproof shoe covers and gloves. The firm was to supply 450,000 of each item, but Kemsa later cancelled the deal following a falling out.

Another firm, Shop ‘N’ Buy Ltd, that was just four months old, was handed a $8.9 million contract to supply 100,000 PPE kits, each at an approximate price of $83. The company was also allowed to supply another 100,000 pieces of KN95 masks at $7 apiece.

Shop ‘N’ Buy owner, James Kipketer Chululey, however, defended the contract, explaining his company did nothing wrong.

Mr Kipketer told the Nation last month the prices were high at the time because he had flown in most of the items, paying excessive cargo fees of about Sh2,000 ($19) for every kilogramme of import.

“We quoted the $83 per kit because we were importing by air and a kilo of any import was going for about 20 dollars in March,” he said.

“Today, it might look inflated, but at that time, that was the price. Kemsa is now at a loss because the prices of some of those kits have dropped since we are now importing by sea.”

These cases highlight how the pandemic has become a gravy train for suppliers.

But in some instances, there were cases of outright theft of public funds at the expense of health workers, while the general population was unable to access the promised relief.

KEMSA, which was at the centre of the publicised scandal, has finally published a list of all companies that were awarded contracts in the matter that cost the country upwards of Ksh7.8 billion.

A list that appears on the Public Procurement Information Portal (PPIP) showed that several companies were awarded the contracts with some pocketing over Ksh150 million in the process.

The list shows all the companies that were awarded contracts in the competitive process, including those that may not have committed a crime.

Philips Healthcare Technologies Ltd was contracted to supply Covid-19 test kits worth Ksh150 million while Zonken Medical Supplies was also directed to provided extraction kits.

Other companies listed on the website include Bell Industries which supplied Thermometers, F & S Scientific Ltd that supplied Swabs and Zebra Investments Ltd that supplied Viral Transport Media with Swabs on emergency.

Another company, Saga Holdings Ltd, was also contracted to supply surgical masks valued at Ksh21 million while Nanopay Ltd was contracted to supply KN95 Respirator face masks as well as Ziwala Ltd

Other companies mentioned include Wallabis Ventures (PPE), Aszure Commercial Services LTD (KN95 face masks), Trippleage Investment Ltd (face masks), Villa Surgical and Equipment Ltd (Surgical masks), Faram East Africa Ltd and Caperina Ltd among others

On Wednesday, August 27 issued two directives including the public listing of all companies involved in the tenders as well as a second-order to the investigative agencies to expedite the criminal investigation and present a report within 21 days.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigated the theft of the Covid-19 billions where a total of 12 companies were allegedly awarded tenders worth Ksh3 billion to supply items that were not covered in KEMSA’s budget as at June 4, 2020.

EACC has also disclosed that it had stopped any payments by KEMSA related to Covid-19 until the investigations are completed.


‘Further investigation’

The BBC reports the audit also highlighted 30,000 relief grants which “require further investigation”.

“A lot of the effort that we put into this on the detection side of things has revealed a number of frightening findings that require to be followed up very quickly so that there is no significant passage of time before the required actions are implemented,”Makwetu was quoted by BBC saying at a press conference.

The funds were meant to assist vulnerable households with relief food, unemployment grants, support to small businesses and farmers and to also procure personal protective equipment.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked his Health Minister Obediah Moyo on accusations of seeking to enrich himself through a lucrative tender for medical equipment.

Moyo is battling corruption charges related to a $20 million contract awarded to a Hungary-registered firm, allegedly without going through proper processes.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has equated corruption in procurement of PPE to murder.

“Any level or any type of corruption is unacceptable. However, corruption related to PPE … for me it is actually a murder. Because, if health workers work without PPE, we are risking their lives and that also risks the lives of the people they serve. So it is criminal and it is a murder,” Dr Ghebreyesus said on August 22.



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