Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has been put to task over why his brother, who is the Health chief officer, Patrick Kibwana, terminated contracts of striking health workers last year.
The Senate Health committee questioned why health matters were being handled by the Health chief officer and not the county Public Service Board.
“Governor Kibwana you can see the conflict of interest if your brother was employed by the PSB why are these matters of frontline health workers being handled by him and not the board? I thought that was their work,” posed nominated Senator Mary Seneta.
Narok Senator Ledama Olekina said: “It has been brought to our attention that there is nepotism in your county. I’m sure there could be other candidates that could best fit that role.”
The governor, however, maintained that no staff was fired and he did not take part in the hiring of his brother.
“The governor does not appoint county chief officers. That is the work of the PSB and it so happened that my brother was among the candidates and the name was taken to the county assembly and was approved,” he said.
Kivutha added, “In Makueni there was no health worker dismissed.”
However, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr dismissed the governor’s argument.
“The governor [is] implying that I am misleading this committee that his brother did not dismiss workers because I can provide the letters. I have forwarded the records where frontline health workers have been dismissed by the same gentleman called Dr Patrick Musyoki Kibwana,” said Kilonzo Jnr.
Kibwana nevertheless defended his brother, saying the workers were only issued with demand letters to explain why they did not report to work.
The committee also questioned the governor over the expenditure of Sh246 million Covid-19 funds without an approved budget and procurement plans.
The Auditor-General report showed that the county government lacked an approved budget for Sh58 million for frontline workers’ allowance.
“The audit report showed that Makueni had in place approved work plans, procurement plans, and training plans specific to Covid-19 activities, however, the frontline health workers were not captured in the budget,” read the report.
The AG’s report flagged counties for spending Covid-19 funds in the absence of approved procurement plans, budget plans, training plans, and no market survey for the goods delivered.
Money received by Makueni county includes the government’s conditional grant of Sh119 million, Danida Sh7 million, government’s health workers allowance Sh58 million, county own source Sh46 million, county emergency fund Sh7 million, county own resource revenue (facility improvement fee) Sh4 million, Slovak embassy Sh787, 500, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation Sh1 million and Direct deposit of Sh10,000.
Kibwana, who appeared virtually before the committee, was also put to task over the flawed procurement process of Covid-19 items.
The governor admitted that the process was done manually which was open to errors. He said the accounting officer has always approved awards manually by signing and issuing an award notification letter to the winning bidder.
But Kilonzo Jnr said: “The requisitions done by the brother is the main issue here. The issue of manual entries is deliberate so that the procurement can end up in private entities. They are not errors. They are deliberate.”