Kenya: MPs Told of Amoth's Text to Kemsa Boss in Graft Probe

2 December 2020

A parliamentary committee heard that Ministry of Health acting Director General Patrick Amoth sent a text message to suspended Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) CEO Jonah Manjari allegedly asking him to give a commitment letter to a company to supply Covid-19 materials.

In yesterday's deliberations of the National Assembly Public Investment Committee, Kaloleni MP Paul Katana produced a text message that he said Dr Amoth sent to Dr Manjari pushing a tender for Roxxy ventures.

Mr Katana claimed that the proprietor of Roxxy Ventures, a Mr David Munene, had earlier talked to Dr Amoth seeking assistance to get the tender.

The text that Dr Amoth sent to Dr Manjari, according to Mr Katana, read: "Hi Daktari, please consider as earlier discussed."

"Did you at any time send this message to the CEO?" asked Mr Katana. Dr Amoth refuted the claims, saying he at no time influenced any tender at Kemsa.

"I'm not aware of the message and I did not text the CEO," Dr Amoth said. It is not clear whether Roxxy Ventures got the tender as it is not on the list of pre-qualified companies that supplied PPEs. Dr Amoth, however, admitted that many people came to his office to look for tenders to supply Covid-19 materials but he directed them to Kemsa.

"I can confirm that many people came to the Ministry of Health and specifically to my office wanting to supply the items. But I directed them to Kemsa because that is the procurement entity for the Ministry of Health," Dr Amoth said.

He also denied having any relationship with the eight companies mentioned on Tuesday that Dr Manjari offered commitment letters to in total disregard of the law.

The eight companies that won tenders cumulatively worth Sh2.1 billion in complete disregard of the law include Regal Freighters, Northlink GSC Ltd, Meraky Healthcare, Everywhere Distributors, LA Miguela Holdings Ltd, Shop and Buy Ltd, Midlife Biological Ltd and Komtel Kenya Ltd.

Dr Amoth also admitted to the MPs that he does not know the whereabouts of Covid-19 supplies donated to Kenya by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma even as he said that Kemsa never consulted the ministry on the procurement of the Personal Protective Equipment. He said that upon official receipt of the Mr Ma's donations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), they were taken by technical officers while he headed to a press conference.

He told the Abdulswamad Nasir-led committee that, on the day the donations arrived at the JKIA, he went to receive them together with the Ethiopian Ambassador and that the donations were never opened at the airport as earlier stated by the ministry of health.

"I'm actually the one who received the consignment together with the Ethiopian ambassador. The consignment was later taken by our technical officers. I went to a press conference after that and I don't know what happened thereafter," Dr Amoth said, adding: "It was just a ceremonial handing over at the airport. We could not open the consignment to confirm whether everything was intact. I cannot tell whether part of our donation remained in Ethiopia because they too had their own donations from Jack Ma."

This comes as the Director General told the committee that the Sh6.3 billion worth of PPEs that are rotting at Kemsa were bought without technical advice from the ministry.

"Our technical advice and the quantity of Covid-19-related materials was never sought by Kemsa. Had we been consulted, we would have given the correct number of PPEs to be bought based on the projections that we had made," Dr Amoth said.

He further told MPs that, despite his office writing to Kemsa to give it a status update on the number of stock it has, the agency never provided the stock update and continued to buy Covid-19 materials.

Mr Nassir told the DG that it was not prudent for the country to spend billions of shillings in buying PPEs that are currently rotting at Kemsa stores.

"Don't you think it was not worth spending billions in buying PPEs that we don't need and we have ended up keeping them in stores?" asked Mr Nassir said.

"Looking at the stock held by Kemsa and the numbers we have, probably they did not need all those PPEs," Dr Amoth said.

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