MPs grill CS Mailu, PS Muraguri over Afya House scam

Health Cabinet Secretary, Cleopa Mailu, and his Principal Secretary, Nicholas Muraguri, on Tuesday, November 8 appeared before the Senate Health Committee to answer to allegations of corruption leveled against the Ministry.

The two, who appeared before the Wilfred Machage-led committee on separate sessions, seemed to be reading from different scripts.

With the complete audit report into the alleged five billion shilling corruption scandal at the Ministry of Health expected to be out by the end of this week, CS Mailu and PS Muraguri insisted that only 3.1 billion shillings and not 5 billion is yet to be fully accounted for in the alleged scam.

The embattled Health CS, who said investigations are currently ongoing into how the donor funds were used unexplainably, also expressed disappointment in the matter.

Even as they defended themselves, CS Mailu has affirmed that the government will be forced to refund Ksh 1.6 billion to donors that was granted in the year 2005 and that was supposed to be used to vaccinate children but was allegedly misappropriated.

“It’s an audit of 2011/2012 and not a current matter, it is money that is supposed to be refunded because it cannot be accounted for. We have to pay half by October and the other half by March next year,” said CS Mailu.

Mailu also promised thorough investigations into the matter once the final audit report is out before the end of the week.

On his part, PS Muraguri defended the claims saying that the issue was brought about by an incomplete audit report adding that “we were not given time to respond.”

“Audit queries do not necessarily mean loss of funds. That Ksh 5 billion was fabricated by the media. The figure is Ksh 3.1 billion and its lost but queried,” noted PS Muraguri.

On being asked about why he wanted the auditor removed from the Ministry, Muraguri said: “This is something that was propagated, I did not ask for the auditor to be removed, all I wanted was a more competent person.”

This was after CS Mailu agreed that his PS made a request to transfer Afya House internal auditor, Bernard Muchere, on October 19 urging the committee to probe the intentions of transfer because he was not copied in the letter.

Since reports about the alleged scandal broke last week, CS Mailu and PS Muraguri have been under pressure to explain how such huge sums of money, some which were to be allocated for free maternity and children’s vaccine, were spent.

“The amount that was diverted from free maternity services to purchase of medical supplies is Ksh 586, 491, 796.45 and not Ksh 880, 053, 456.90 as mentioned in the report,” said Mailu last week.

“While this is still a case of concern since any budgetary allocations should be taken through the parliamentary process, it is vital to note that medical supplies are equally important hence it was a case of good intention. But we are investigating this aspect.”

The opposition party has since called for the immediate stepping aside of former Health CS, Dr James Macharia, and PS Muraguri over the cash loss.

At the same time, the US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, also asked senior government officials implicated to step aside to pave way for investigations.

Last week, CS Mailu and PS Muraguri were subjected to marathon grilling by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives over the scandal.

EACC, alongside the Ministry of Health, has since set up special teams to investigate the alleged loss saying that their report will be released in subsequent weeks.

Two companies; Estama Investments, registered as an EPZ company, and Life Care Medics, are said to be beneficiaries of cash meant for patients, expectant mothers and newborn babies in the free maternity programme offered by the government.

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