Members of Civil Society organizations in Nakuru County are warning of a disastrous nation in the days to come if the government will not move with speed to address the issues of transparency and loss of public funds during this COVID-19 pandemic.
They have called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to take action and save the nation that seems to be collapsing due to corrupt cartels.
Addressing the media in Nakuru under the umbrella ‘Kenya Tuitakayo’, the human rights defenders are perturbed by the reported theft and diversion of donated Personal Protective Equipment.
In a statement read by Wanjiku Kihika and John Kamande, they members of the Nakuru civil society organizations also raised questions on the reported breaching of provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act 2015 in the procurement of PPEs by KEMSA.
They have also put the government on the spot for failing to disclose all information on the amount allocated and distributed under the social protection programmes set up to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic including the names of beneficiaries and the criteria used to identify beneficiaries.
It is for this reason that the Nakuru Human Rights defenders have called on the government agencies to make public the names of companies and individuals awarded contracts for COVID-19 related commodities or services and the contract amounts.
“We call on all government agencies to immediately publish the names of companies and individuals awarded contracts for COVID-19 related commodities or services and the contract amounts” they stated in the stamen read by Kamande.
The activists are also demanding that the Cabinet Secretary National Treasury publish all expenditure on funds advanced for the CVID-19 efforts.
The Health Cabinet Secretary has also been put to task to ensure that he provides full disclosure on the distribution of PPEs acquired by the government of Kenya whether purchased or donated giving full details on the sources and recipients.
And in order to ensure transparency, the activists have called on Auditor General to conduct an independent audit of all funds meant for COVID-19.
They further called on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to fast-track their efforts to investigate the already suspected cases of theft at national and county levels.
Paul Masese Kemunche from Centre for enhancing Democracy and Good Governance(CEDGG) added that Kenya is at crossroads with many pandemics among them COVID-19 but with many shadow pandemics such as corruption that if not addressed the society will suffer.
“It is so unfortunate that the Government has been begging for money in the name of vulnerable citizens only to end up stealing from the same citizens. The Global Fund USAID withdrawal will not affect the government but the common citizens and that is why we are saying time is now to act” said Masese.
Masese says if President Uhuru Kenyatta will not address the nation on the allegations of corruption in his government and lay on the table measures to correct the same, then there will be a revolution through huge national civic demonstrations.
“If the government will not implement the recommendations we have stated then Uhuru will not have an option but to step aside” said Masese.
Similar sentiments echoed by Midrift Human Rights Network CEO Joseph Omondi.
Omondi says a time is now for Kenyans to move from social media organizing to Community organizing.
While noting that the healthcare workers are also suffering as cartels embezzle funds at Afya House, the Midrift Human Rights Network CEO said the government is to blame as health was fully devolved but funding has continued to be paralyzed by the National treasury.
“The healthcare workers are issuing strike notices day in day out. Health was generally devolved but the national Government has continued to remain with the funds. A situation where somebody steals money in the name of COVID-19 pandemic and we are silent? This is impunity that cannot be tolerated. Thus we need civic action so that the government can listen” said Omondi.
Their sentiments come even as civil society organizations have planned mega protests in various towns to pile pressure on the government to take action against corrupt individuals who have embezzled public funds.