Former Health PS Josephine Mburu’s letter to Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) on February 21, 2023, regarding inconsistencies in the specifications of mosquito nets tendered by the agency largely contributed to her sacking.
Reports indicated that the former Health PS wrote a letter to KEMSA asking the agency to rectify the specifications of nets that were to be procured in a Ksh3.7 billion tender in line with a list of specifications set out by the ministry.
Consequently, suspended KEMSA boss Terry Ramadhani wrote back to the PS informing her that the agency would make the changes in light of her letter.
“In view of this and in order to rectify the error that has been identified before the closure of the tender scheduled for February 23, we have extended the tender closing date by another 14 days,” read KEMSA’s response in part.
Given that the procurement was also being supported by Global Fund, KEMSA also wrote a letter to the donor informing them of the expected delays in tendering the nets as they rectify the oversight noted by the PS in the letter.
However, Global Fund, through its country coordinator Simon Kibia, opposed the changes noting that the specifications for the nets earlier tendered were correct.
The donor noted that the proposed net specification by the PS had already been reviewed and removed from the tender documents.
Further, Kibia asked the medical procurement agency to proceed with the tender.
“The LLINs being procured by GF grant are pyrethroid LLINs and not the PBO LLINs, therefore the requirement Number 2 Synergist piperonyl-Butoxide (PBO) LLINs should not be included in the tender document as part of the technical specifications,” read Global Fund’s response in part.
Nonetheless, when the donor’s letter got back to KEMSA, the agency had already readvertised the tender promoting the donor to raise concerns.
Investigations into the scandal are yet to be completed to establish any wrongdoing on the part of the PS.
According to the Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, the PS was sacked owing to President William Ruto’s demand for accountability.
“Specifically, I would not tell whether she was involved or not. Principal Secretaries are the accounting officers of the ministry. It is expected that in their day-to-day, they will interact with the institutions when it comes to such matters,” the CS explained.
Mburu’s appointment as PS was terminated by Ruto on Monday, May 15 after serving for 163 days.
She was the first PS in the Kenya Kwanza administration to be sacked. Her sacking came a day after Ruto promised to take action over the unravelling KEMSA deal.
“I want to give you my commitment that we will clean up KEMSA. Whatever it takes,” Ruto stated during an interview on May 14.
Another change by the government was the overhaul of the KEMSA board – a move that saw Ruto appoint Irungu Nyakera as the board chairperson.