By Wafula Paul
A close childhood friend of Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe registered Kilig Ltd on January 22 this year.
Mr William Willbroad Gachoka, who is also the brother of outspoken television personality Tony Gachoka, registered the company with a Chinese national, Mr Zhu Jinping. They each owned one share in the company.
At registration, the company had 1,000 nominal shares, which left it a lot of headroom to bring on board other shareholders. A few months later, the little-known company would be handpicked by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), and handed a Sh4 billion tender to supply 450,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) at Sh9,000 each.
Kilig was not on the list of thousands of pre-qualified companies with a history at Kemsa — it had no financial track record and no single PPE.
This would be the deal that spoilt the procurement party at the drugs agency, which would quickly escalate into a boardroom fight at the firm headquartered on Commercial Street in the capital city.
With this Kilig deal, Kemsa had exposed itself. It had broken all the rules, that even the suspended procurement boss, Charles Juma, said it was indefensible.
After it became apparent that Kilig would never be able to supply the tender, Kemsa cancelled it to save face.
It was too little, too late.
The anti-corruption detectives were already knocking on its doors and everyone would quickly rush into self-preservation mode.
And then names started coming out. Big election fundraisers had got some of the Covid-19 tenders, and had been paid. Connected businessmen fronted by the Health ministry had also received the Covid billions.
That was not all.
Ziwala Ltd, owned by Ms Samantha Ngina Muthama and Ms June Nduta Kinyua, is also among the beneficiaries of the Covid billions. The company is located on Ginge Road in Nairobi’s Westlands area.
Not part of Kemsa deal
Mr Murathe, who has remained in the shadows over his involvement with Kilig even as pressure mounted on him, has finally spoken, but only to deny that he was part of the Kemsa deal.
In an interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday night, Mr Murathe admitted that he knows Mr William Gachoka and Mr Zhu, who were the owners of the company at the time it got the tender.
Mr Tony Gachoka, had on several occasions linked Mr Murathe to the scam, mounting pressure on him to speak out. He has claimed that Mr Murathe will destroy his brother.
“The time for politics will come, but Kenya cannot allow impunity anymore. Stopping a tender does not excuse the illegality surrounding the issuance of several commitment letters by Kemsa to Murathe,” Mr Gachoka had said.
Mr Murathe, a known broker for Chinese companies in Kenya, has denied being a part of the Kemsa deal.
“I have partnered with William on a number of issues but not on this one. We are family friends from childhood. We are consultants. We do a lot of consultancy business.”
“I have no connection with Kilig. I enquired from him (William) and he briefed me about their engagement with Kemsa. There was no procurement. Just a commitment to procure,” Mr Murathe said in a text message.
Trouble for Kilig started when it was unable to deliver the kits, despite having been issued with the commitment letters as well as several extension letters.
But when the heat became too much, its shareholding was conveniently changed and the company was handed to Ms Ivy Minyow Onyango, their lawyer. Mr Murathe said Ms Onyango works in William Gachoka’s office.
But in a twist to the saga, Mr Murathe sensationally claimed that some partners of Deputy President William Ruto, who he declined to name, had acquired the company after it bagged the Kemsa tender, but were also unable to raise the money required to fund the Kemsa tender.
“The lady (Ms Onyango) works in William’s (Gachoka’s) office. Actually, the only reason she came into play is because William and his partner had transferred the shareholding to known partners of Deputy President William Ruto and when they did not come through with the financing of the importation of the equipment, it reverted back to the original owners through their lawyer,” said Mr Murathe.
“Where is the theft? The reason for cancellation was inadequate budgetary provision. The reason Kemsa is in the spotlight is issuing commitment letters beyond their budgetary provision. I have never supplied or applied to supply any Covid-related materials or equipment, either directly or through third parties. To link me to Kilig through association with William is unfair,” he added.
The suspended Kemsa procurement chief observed in an internal memo to his CEO, Dr Jonah Manjari, who is also suspended, that direct procurement for the emergency kits could only be used as a stop-gap measure in getting limited stocks to be used while the agency planned for a competitive procurement tender.
He said Kemsa had breached this by placing an order for kits in bulk that would have lasted a long time.
“From the Kilig Ltd commitment letter, the total quantity requested is 450,000 kits at approximate unit price of Sh9,000 bringing the total amount to Sh4,050,000,000. This is a huge and substantial quantity, which will last a long time and does not meet threshold of procurement under direct procurement for emergency,” wrote Mr Juma.
This single deal has now emerged as the last stroke that could break the Jubilee Party, having handed DP Ruto a fighting chance when it comes to corruption.
It has also given him a new weapon to fight Mr Murathe, whom he accuses of being the broker that is destroying the Jubilee marriage.-DN.
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