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Economy

I will not resign, Health minister Mailu says

Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu during a Press conference at Afya House on October 28, 2016. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO
Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu during a Press conference at Afya House on October 28, 2016. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO 

The Health Cabinet Secretary, Cleopa Mailu has said he will not step down despite mounting pressure for top officials in the ministry to resign over the Sh5 billion scandal that continues to dominate news headlines.

Responding to calls from MPs, Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, and the larger public, Dr Mailu said that some of the issues raised in the leaked audit report extend all the way back before his tenure and he is here to deal with them.

He said Kenyans work hard for their money and appreciate that “the matter came to light.”

“At the moment I am not considering resignation,” said Dr Mailu.

“We understand that issues left simmering usurp energy but we cannot take action before we finalise on the report.”

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Dr Mailu, flanked by his Principal Secretary, Nicholas Muraguri was speaking during a media briefing at Afya House over the allegations of the multibillion shilling scam.

An edgy Dr Muraguri, however, remained mum throughout the briefing even after agile journalists demanded for his resignation after sparking public outrage for intimidating the reporter who interviewed him over the audit report.

Dr Muraguri had threatened the journalist with dire consequences, including hacking her phone calls and emails.

The Senate had on Thursday said that because of the magnitude of the issues raised in the report, the two top official should step aside as they pave way for investigations.

Top of the list of the fraudulent dealings pointed out in the audit included the diversion of Sh889 million meant for the free maternity programme, an amount that Dr Mailu said was approved by the National Assembly.

This money was instead used for alleged procurement of 100 phantom container clinics that are said to be warehoused in Mombasa awaiting distribution to urban slums.

The National Assembly Health Committee chairwoman, Rachel Nyamae said that the billions of shillings that had been allocated to various programmes at the ministry in the fiscal year 2015/2016 and reports of massive theft “are extremely worrying”.

“The committee met on Thursday and resolved to invite the Cabinet Secretary and his Principal Secretary next week to address the concerns and provide insight into the allegations,” she said.

'Linked to the presidency'

Former prime minister Raila Odinga, also weighed in on the matter saying that the details of the multibillion shilling scam raises doubts on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s innocence in what is happening around him with regard to theft of public funds.

Mr Odinga said that it is now emerging that one of the companies implicated, Estama Ltd, which was paid to supply 100 container clinics at Sh10 million each, is associated with people in the presidency, much as the government is working hard to deny that.

Another company is associated with President Kenyatta’s immediate family members. Yet another is associated with his close friends and confidantes, he said.

Sandales International Ltd, which was paid Sh41 million, features Kathleen Kihanya, Nyokabi Muthama and Samson Kamiri.

Life Care Medics, which earned Sh201 million, is associated with Richard Ngatia and Paul Ndung’u.

“The president cannot claim to know nothing about these individuals. And Kenyans know who these people are to the president,” said Mr Odinga in a concurrent media briefing.

“This scandal is President Kenyatta’s scandal. He must deal with it as such. He must tell the country what he knows, when he knew it and what he did when he knew it.”

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