Nurses Union Boss Seth Panyako Accuses ODM Of Protecting Cartels In KEMSA Covid-19 Scandal

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako in 2018. PHOTO| courtesy

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary-General Seth Panyako has joined a section of Kenyans in calling out the ODM party over its statement yesterday regarding graft claims at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).

In the statement issued by ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna on Saturday, the Raila Odinga party defended the inflated prices of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPES) procured by KEMSA arguing that the prices were lower before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and only shot up due to high demand.

Panyako has told off Sifuna following the claims accusing the ODM party of attempting to “sanitize” theft of Covid-19 funds.

He accused Sifuna of being part of a team trying to protect some top ODM individuals alleged to be involved in the KEMSA scandal.

Panyako urged ODM to keep off the KEMSA case and allow investigative agencies probe the matter

“I want to tell Sifuna that the statement you issued supporting corruption and saying that there is no corruption in KEMSA points only to one thing that the ODM has lost direction. It is now perpetuating impunity and corruption. It is here now protecting cartels that have brought suffering in the health sector. Nurses are dying because we are not getting enough PPEs, ” the KNUN union boss said on Sunday.

KEMSA reportedly procured N95 masks at an outrageous price of Ksh1,300 per piece against the Ksh700 market price.

Already, KEMSA CEO Jonah Mwangi Manjari, Head of Procurement Charles Juma and Commercial Director Eliud Mureithi have been suspended to pave way for the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) to probe the matter.

Sifuna, who claimed that the theft allegations at KEMSA were sensational and baseless, stated that they can only be ascertained after an audit by the Office of the Auditor-General is carried out.

“We 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,” said Sifuna.

He lashed out at Deputy President William Ruto over a recent statement alleging massive embezzlement of Covid-19 funds.

“It is disheartening to hear no less a senior government official than the Deputy President go public with the juvenile and improper statement that ‘at least now nobody will blame me for stealing Covid-19 funds’,” he added.

According to Sifuna, the DP’s remarks suggested that it was okay for public funds to be misappropriated so long as it is not blamed on him.

“It expresses the jealousy of being left out of the gravy train. We have pointed out before that the DP’s recalcitrance and lack of political emotional intelligence are a hindrance to the smooth running of government,” he added telling the DP to help President Uhuru Kenyatta fight graft or resign.

Meanwhile, Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi has called on President Kenyatta to form a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the alleged misappropriation of COVID-19 funds at the Ministry of Health.

In a statement on Sunday, Mudavadi said the formation of a Judicial Commission of inquiry was the most appropriate mechanism to unearth the rot at Afya House and give donors a reason to continue funding the country’s programs.