It is correct to conclude that the biggest governance challenge Kenya has struggled with under the 2010 Constitution has been an acquiescent and docile Parliament.
Parliament has not lived to the expectations that Kenyans envisaged when they promulgated the Constitution.
Apart from passing unconstitutional laws, Parliament has completely failed to hold the Executive to account, and it got even worse after the 2017 election. We have had an Executive that has been operating on a freehold with no checks and balances.
Now, one of the scandals that epitomises the Uhuru Kenyatta administration is the Mafia House scandal involving the procurement of mobile clinics. In 2015, Estama Investments won the tender to supply, install, commission and hand over more than 100 mobile clinics at a cost of Sh1 billion.
But in 2016, an internal audit report showed that the Ministry of Health could have lost Sh5 billion after government officials conspired with suppliers to divert funds, make double payments for goods delivered and manipulate the IFMIS.
The mobile clinics supplied by Estama Investments were among the contracts mentioned in the report.
Not long after, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) filed a suit against Estama Investments alleging that the firm had not paid taxes on the Sh800 million it was paid and in fact accused the company of moving money to secret offshore bank accounts in a tax evasion scheme. It was in this suit that the veil over the scandal was lifted.
KRA filings revealed the company bought each of the clinics at Sh1.4 million and sold to government at Sh10 million each, making supernormal profits.
Over time the Executive has tried to make this scandal disappear. In 2020, the Ministry of Health came up with a plan to hand over the mobile clinics to counties for the national roll-out of universal health coverage (UHC), but this plan was to simply conceal the stench of the scandal.
The ministry just dumped the containers at the counties and never bothered to make them operational. They remain unused to date.
To confirm that there is a cover-up, the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has ended its investigation (in which it was supposed to verify the location of the mobile clinics and if they are operational), concluding that the clinics are in use and that Kenyans are enjoying their services.
This conclusion by PAC is outrageous and unbelievable. How did the committee arrive at giving the scandal a clean bill of health?
The timing of this report by PAC says a lot about the level at which the concealment is getting.
The strategy by the architects of this scandal is to bury it before the current National Assembly exits so the next Parliament doesn’t pick it up for further investigation.
It’s also interesting that we have never heard of the DCI investigating or the DPP prosecuting this case in court? So, who are the faces behind Estama Investments and how powerful are they to tie the hands of all these institutions?
PAC had a record of achieving value for money in the delivery of public services and use of government expenditure but under the Uhuru administration, it has been a malignant tragedy not worth the honour.
At no time did we find ourselves in a position PAC was shamelessly laundering corruption scandals. In fact, PAC has been one of the vibrant watchdogs with a history of pushing for accountability in government, so this is a new low.
The National Assembly should reject the report from the PAC that gives the mobile clinic scandal a clean bill of health. But Kenyans seem stack against a powerful force in the mobile clinics scandal and will be sacrificed at the altar of venality.
So, if it chooses to adopt the report, let it be recorded in history that the National Assembly’s PAC of the 12th Parliament got to a new level of infamy of laundering corruption scandals.