Venomous encounter for poisons board with MPs

August 30, 2011 2:35 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – The Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board has been kicked out of hearings by the Parliamentary Health Committee for the second time in a fortnight.

On Tuesday, the Board got into trouble with the MPs’ committee that is probing the regulator over allegations of clearing substandard drugs into the Kenyan market, after sending just one member to appear before it.

On August 16, the committee was forced to adjourn its hearings as the Board’s members seemed unprepared and could not respond to questions posed to them by the legislators.

Committee Chairman Robert Monda warned on Tuesday that the Board risked being censured by Parliament if its members failed to appear before it on September 6. He accused the board of being contemptuous to Parliament, which he stressed was unacceptable.

“We do not get direction from those we summon on when they should appear or what they should come with.  We give direction on the time, the day and what they should bring without any excuses,” he said.

“But let me caution you; Parliament will pronounce sanctions to the Board if things continue as they are,” he added.

Chief Pharmacist Kipkerich Koskei had earlier tried to defend the Board members’ absenteeism saying that they had other engagements and could therefore not make it to the meeting.  He explained that they had met prior to Tuesday’s meeting, and resolved that they would be represented by one of their members.

He also pointed out that the Board members normally required a 14-day notice to be able to attend any meetings.

“When they say they are engaged, some may be abroad or held up elsewhere. You cannot really go into the internal issues of anyone. It is difficult to say when the full Board will make it because I am just the secretary,” he said.

“So when you call the Board meeting and a half of the team makes it, I have no authority of disciplining them as a person,” he argued.

He however found himself in more trouble when the committee members asked him to produce minutes of the meeting where they decided that they would be represented by one person.

MPs Fred Outa (Nyando), Thomas Mwadeghu (Wundanyi), Joseph Magwanga (Kasipul-Kabondo) and David Eseli (Kimilili) expressed their dissatisfaction with the Board saying the reasons given were insufficient.

Mr Mwadeghu even proposed that the Board members get a letter, from the President, exempting them from appearing before the committee.
“Under the Powers and Privileges Act, I would like the Secretary to table a letter under Section 17, excusing the Board from being here,” he said.

During the last meeting with the Board members on August 16, tempers flared forcing Mr Monda to throw out the Board’s Legal Officer, Dr Joseph Yano, for misconduct.

“Members of your Board seem to be behaving like this is a baraza and it is disgusting to this committee.  At this point I want to order Dr Yano out of this committee. We don’t handle business here by show of hands,” Dr Monda directed at the time.

Dr Yano, who appeared to have lost his temper, however quickly accused Mr Monda of picking on him.

“You have something against me but it is fine. Let me go and have my baraza outside. Next time I’ll be in Parliament and you will not!” he retorted.

After Dr Yano had left the committee room, Mr Monda said that a letter would be drafted to House Speaker Kenneth Marende reporting his actions so that appropriate disciplinary action can be taken.


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