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Ex-PS Josephine Mburu: I met Ruto in the morning and he sacked me hours later

Appearing before the Senate team investigating the botched Sh3.7 billion mosquito net tender at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) on 6 June, sacked Principal Secretary Josephine Mburu said she did not know why she was sacked by President William Ruto over the matter.

Speaking to the committee, Ms Mburu said she was not involved in the procurement process, nor was she involved in cancelling the tender after irregularities in its awarding were discovered.

“I don’t know why I was fired. Like I said, I was in the office at about 6:45 when the news came. I signed in during normal working hours. I was signing letters, I was reading. I saw it in the media and I said okay.

But the media told us that the President had been advised. I think the question is whether I would seek justice or perhaps we need to know what advice was given to the President to go and say ‘Josephine you are involved in this tender’.

And to the best of my ability or knowledge, I have nothing. Whatever I did, I did it to the best of my ability and knowledge as somebody who has been in the system for 34 years.

Remember, I am an experienced civil servant. I know what is confidential, I know what is secret. I know where to go and where to stop, and I think I would make an appeal to this committee.

I’ve had a good working relationship and even on Monday, the day I was dismissed, I was in a meeting with the President in the morning and we even had a meeting with him.

I would like to be listened to because I think maybe ‘it has happened’ but I think I need to be listened to,” Ms Mburu said.

The Ministry of Health has two State Departments and as such, there are two Principal Secretary positions for this docket.

These are the Directorate of Public Health and Professional Standards which was held by Ms Mburu and the Directorate of Medical Services, which was headed by PS Peter Tum.

Ms Mburu was sacked on May 15, 2023, after serving for five months and uproar ensued over why she was being fired over a tender that allegedly fell in PS Tum’s department.

According to the Ministry of Health, the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards is tasked with developing policies on public health and sanitation, overseeing preventive and promotive health services, developing policies on human resource development for healthcare workers and contributing to the safeguarding public health and promoting a healthier and safer society.

On the other hand, the State Department for Medical Services is tasked with setting medical services policy to provide curative health services and managing health policy and administration, overseeing pharmacy and medicines control, coordinating national health referral services, developing cancer management policies and supporting medical research.

Ms Mburu claimed the blame for this latest Kemsa scandal should have been placed at Mr Tum’s feet instead of hers. Mr Tum was moved to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Arts and Sports once this news made national headlines.

Nation. Africa broke the news of another multi-billion tendering scandal at Kemsa in May 2023 after a tender was irregularly awarded to a company that did not meet the requirements set under the Kenyans and Global Fund procurement laws and guidelines to supply mosquito nets to the Global Fund.

The Fund cancelled the tender after conducting an audit, costing the government millions in revenue. Global Fund then migrated the tendering process to its online portal in order to do damage control.

The Fund intended on distributing the mosquito nets to tens of Kenyan counties where malaria is prevalent.

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