Deputy President William Ruto with ODM Leader in 2008

William Ruto, Raila clash on KEMSA use of Covid-19 funds

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have clashed over the alleged misuse of funds by Kemsa to procure Covid-19 commodities. Since the Secretary General Edwin Sifuna made a press briefing on Friday the Deputy President has been attacking ODM.

In a tweet on Sunday, the DP blasted the ODM party for supposedly taking advantage of the handshake between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta for “personal gain” and to defend corrupt activities at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.  

“[That] the pretentious (former) Opposition, now turned Lords of corruption, attempted defence of the Covid-19 grand larceny is not shocking. It confirms the worst of Kenyans’ fears that their side of the handshake was never interested in the people’s good but opportunity to loot. What a shame,” Ruto posted on Twitter.

But in an interview with Chweya, Raila defended Kemsa and the Ministry of Health in general, saying suspension of the agency’s CEO and other top managers  has been blown out of proportion to look bad.

“We need to address corruption all the time. There are cases where there are real corruption and those where there are vested commercial interests that come out as corruption. On this issue of MOH…there is a lot of noise without any facts…no audit has been carried out to tell people how much money has been lost,” the former Prime Minister told the Star on Friday during an interview.

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On Saturday, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna came out guns blazing, accusing the media of sensationalising the matter.

The party fought off claims of corruption in the tendering process saying the reports were baseless and that the country should wait for a review by the Auditor General.

ODM slammed the edia for reporting the allegations.     

“We gather that the DCI has been called into Kemsa to investigate these matters. We however wonder how this can be so, before a credible audit by the Auditor General is carried out to ascertain the veracity of these claims. The precedent has been set before, where the media goes on a sensationalist extravaganza, with half-baked information obtained from shadowy sources, ending up creating more problems than solutions,” Sifuna said.

He defended the high prices for purchase of Personal Protective Equipment saying they were bound to go up with the outbreak.

“It is important to note that as far as the prices of PPEs go, conventional wisdom must hold that such prices were lower before Covid-19 ravaged the whole world, and any current procurement has to come with higher values. Higher prices alone cannot, therefore, be a basis for doubting the probity of those who undertake these tasks,” he said.

On Sunday, Sifuna said ODM is not defending corruption but that they first want an audit by the Auditor General.

“We asked for an audit. In which language is that a defence of theft? It is the hope of the actual thieves to disappear in the fog of the manufactured ‘outrage’. The worst of Kenyans’ fear is you being in charge, for we will lack words to describe the plunder that will ensue,” Sifuna wrote in response to Ruto’s tweet.

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Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Soy MP Caleb Kositany both accused ODM of rushing to defend Kemsa, claiming senior party members are deeply involved in the tenders being questioned.

“I understand why the delinquent ODM secreta-general is ferociously defending the leeches who have sucked resources from desperate Covid-19 victims at Kemsa. First, ODM thinks they are more government than Jubilee. Secondly, four senior ODM members are the said ghost ‘suppliers’. Bure Kabisa,” Murkomen said in a tweet.

“The reason why ODM is viciously fighting any attempts by the members of the public to ask questions is because some of its senior members are deeply in the mess, as happened in corruption allegations at the Kenya Ports Authority where some of the same names being mentioned in Kemsa scandal were also in the KPA one,” Kositany told the Star on the phone.