Uhuru Revokes Appointment of KEMSA Chairman, Appoints Mary Chao to Chair Board

image of KEMSA chairperson Kembi Gitura

By Victoria Magar

Mary Chao Mwadime will be at the helm of the troubled Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) until 2024, following her appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta. KEMSA chairman Kembi Gitura when he appeared before the National Assembly over COVID-19 scandal.

KEMSA chairperson Kembi Gitura when he was in court for KEMSA scandals

In a gazette notice yesterday, April 28, Uhuru named Mwadime the KEMSA chairperson to replace Kembi Gitura, whose appointment was revoked.

“I, Uhuru Kenyatta, appoint Mary Chao Mwadime as the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority for a period of three years with effect from April 30, 2021. The appointment of James Kembi Gitura is revoked.”

Gitura, who is also the immediate former Murang’a senator, had held the position for two years until in March 2021 when Uhuru moved him to the Communications Authority of Kenya in the same capacity.

At the same time, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe named Lawrence Wahome, Robert Nyarango, Terry Kiunge Ramadhani and Linton Nyagah Kinyua to sit on the board for three years. The four members will take up positions previously held by Timothy Mwololo Waema, Bibiana K. Njue, Joel Onsare Gesuka and Dorothy Atieno Aywak, whose appointment were revoked.

The changes, though not surprising came at a time when the drug agency was fighting off corruption allegations following an irregular tendering process for the supply COVID-19 items. The report which was presented before the National Assembly by Auditor-General Nancy Gathangu in September 2020, revealed Kenyans lost KSh 2.3 billion.

KEMSA logo

Gathangu told the committee Kenya lost KSh 2.3 billion as a result of irregular and unprocedural tendering process in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The KSh 2.3 billion loss, she explained, was as a result of over-procurement which saw Kenya purchase COVID-19 medical supplies worth KSh 6.3 billion instead of KSh 4 billion.

The auditor-general also implicated KEMSA top officials who she noted utilised monies that had been set aside for Universal Health Coverage to purchase COVID-19 items.

“During the period under review, KEMSA irregularly utilised Universal Health Coverage and Capital Budget to procure COVID-19 related items worth KSh7,632,068,588 without evidence of approval of the budgets by relevant authorities,” she said.

Gitura had previously dragged Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache’s name into the scandal saying the PS directed them on where to procure, materials and price of COVID-19 materials.Gitura told MPs that KEMSA received a letter dated April 15, 2020, and which was signed by Mochache with details on how to go about procurement.