Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered investigations into the alleged theft of funds meant for the procurement of provision for the fight against COVID-19 in the country.

During a televised national address, Kenyatta said investigators had three weeks to complete the probe.

A media expose carried in local outlets in the country reported how the government medical procurement officers handpicked companies and gave multibillion-dollar contracts this lead to embezzlement of funds, the supply of sub-standard Personal Protective Equipment and even loss of some of the equipment which had been donated by individuals as well as international donors.

The revelations have led to public outcry in the country.

43 billion Kenyans 

After days of public protests and demand for action over the theft of funds meant for COVID-19 as well as doctors’ strike over low-quality protective gear.

Human Rights activist, Wanjeri Nderu said, “It’s not that we don’t have the money. We have the money to give them but they are stealing that money. And this is a statement that needs to be said firmly that we, as Kenyans, as much as we stand with our doctors, we also are concerned about our own lives.”

Chairman of Doctors’ Union in Nairobi Dr. Deogratius  Mayero said, “Some people have died, patients are dying of COVID because some people decided to squander 43 billion Kenyans and that is a shame.”

Kenyatta made his pronouncement on Wednesday indicating that investigations had begun into the alleged impropriety at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).

“I want to once again reiterate that all persons found to be culpable as a result of those ongoing investigations should be brought to book notwithstanding their public office or their political or for that matter their social status.”

Corruption scandals

Kenya’s is not an isolated case. Corruption scandals involving top government officials in several African countries are threatening to derail the continent’s fight against the disease.

Some of those countries include Zimbabwe, South Africa, Somalia – where a court jailed the Ministry of health officials for up to 18 years over the theft of funds meant for COVID-19.

The World Health Organisation Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus not mincing his words on those who have stolen these funds said, “Any type of corruption is unacceptable however corruption related to PPE is actually murder.”

Kenyans will be waiting with baited to see if this time, things will be different and that those culpable will be brought to book.

By Wednesday, Kenya had 33 016 cases of the novel coronavirus, 564 deaths and 19 296 recoveries.