- Talk is rife that the Kenyan government isn’t utilizing the donor funds meant COVID-19 intervention well.
- The loud outcry compelled an irked President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the nation on Wednesday.
- The country's deputy president blamed the opposition.
Corruption is one thing but in Kenya, corruption is simply on another level. How else do you explain a situation whereby funds meant for the sick and vulnerable in the society are looted with impunity? To make the situation worse, it is funds meant for combating the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s the situation in Kenya currently as investigations into allegations of a grand corruption syndicate, involving the country’s giant medical supplies agency, KEMSA is currently ongoing.
Donor Funds Being Looted
Talk is rife that the Kenyan government isn’t utilizing the donor funds meant COVID-19 intervention well. A section of the nation’s political class, as well as the civil society, are now calling upon the international community to compel the government to explain how it has spent the cash so far received or freeze the financing altogether.
A week ago, peaceful demonstrators took to the streets of the nation’s capital, Nairobi, in protests against the alleged corruption, including the theft of monies and supplies meant for the fight against COVID-19.
Police instead teargased them and arrested some. “We cannot continue like this. Others are balling (enjoying) from proceeds of theft and we are dying,” said the protest organizer, Wanjeri Nderu. “The reason we are being overtaxed is because they (government leaders) want to cover this big hole in the economy caused by theft of public resources.” She added.
President Kenyatta Irked by Scandal
The KEMSA scandal outcry has been gaining momentum in Kenya lately with the nation’s major social pages and groups awash with complaints and protests from Kenyans from all walks of life. The loud outcry compelled an irked President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the nation on Wednesday, vowing to leave no stone unturned in regard to the scandal.
In his address, Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the government’s investigations agencies to immediately begin investigating the alleged theft scandal at Kemsa and gave a 21 days ultimatum for the same.
“Given the public interest the relevant agencies should expedite investigations and conclude the same within 21 days,” Uhuru ordered. “All persons found to be culpable from the ongoing investigations on COVID funds should be brought to book notwithstanding their social status or political affiliations,” added the president.
It recently emerged that officials at the KEMSA agency had been irregularly awarding tenders to mysterious entities and cutting corruption deals amounting to several millions of shillings under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The saga was exposed by an audit that exposed massive procurement, as well as financial irregularities that put at risk more than KSh 100 billion of donor funds as well as taxpayers’ money.
Among Kenya’s top leadership that has come out in condemnation of the alleged theft at KEMSA is the country’s Deputy President, William Ruto, who, on his part, accused the opposition, led by Raila Odinga, that is currently working with the government of involvement in the scandal.
The Deputy president tweeted thus:
“The pretentious (former) Opposition, now turned Lords of corruption, attempted defense of the Covid19 grand larceny is not shocking, it confirms the worst of Kenyan’s fears that their side of the handshake was never interested in the people’s good but opportunity to loot. What a shame.”
Odinga, on his part, called for independent investigations into the scandal and said that no one should be spared if found guilty in regard to the same.
“ODM wants a speedy professional audit that can lead to prosecution instead of a political shouting match that creates more confusion and end up clouding the issues and even covering up for the thieves,” he said.
“ODM will not defend anyone including members for relatives and friends of its officials found to have benefited from funds and other resources meant for fighting the pandemic,” added the former Prime Minister.