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Pressure mounts as demonstrations planned over missing maternity billions

Afya House, Medical Services Ministry Headquarters/FILE

Afya House, Ministry of Health Headquarters/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, October 31– A section of Civil Society Organisations are this week set to hold protests at the Ministry of Health offices to demand for the resignation of the Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri.

The groups want Muraguri to resign from office over the alleged misappropriation of Sh5 billion meant for the free maternity programme.

Muraguri has been on spot after he allegedly threatened a journalist who sought more information over the unraveling scandal but he has since apologised.

The claims are based in an interim internal audit report which according to opposition leader Raila Odinga, has unearthed what appears to be a scandal similar to that of the National Youth Service where the Integrated Financial Management System was infiltrated and payments made to dubious companies illegally.

It reveals massive loss of public funds through diversion of funds, double payments of goods and manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System.

About Sh800 million is said to have been paid to Estama Investment Limited to supply 100 portable medical clinics but four months after the financial year ended, not a single clinic has been supplied.

According to reports in a local daily, the company was allegedly paid in three installments the first being on June 27 where they paid Sh400 million.

Another company said to have received the diverted funds is Esaki Limited, associated with the former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Chairperson Phillip Kinisu.

The company allegedly received Sh150.1 million.

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The report further reveals millions of diverted public funds that jeopardise the free maternity programme.

Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu has dismissed claims that the above named firms were favoured on account of their association with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On Sunday, the CS said that all Kenyans have a right to transact business with the government unless there is direct conflict of interest as clearly stipulated by law.

“As far as I am concerned anybody can transact business with any institution as long as there is no conflict of interest, and I have looked at the Public Ethics Act, I have looked at the Integrity Act of the Public Servants the extent to which we can define conflict of interest, those people who are doing business with the ministry they have a right to do so and I don’t see a conflict of interest,” he said.

Some of the companies include Sundales International Limited whose Managing Director Kathleen Kihanya, a close relative to the Head of State, admitted receiving Sh41 million for a supplies contract.

Mailu said he will appoint an independent auditor to re-look at all contracts at the Ministry in the 2015/16 financial year.

While promising to continue releasing information and clarifying the contents of the leaked report, the CS said the information he had received by Sunday showed that there was no money lost.

“From the information I have today, I have not come across any loss of money. What I have seen is that projects have been completed,” he told reporters on Sunday.

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