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The coming COVID-19 funds problem

Police on Friday morning pounced on protesters who had gathered at Uhuru Park in Nairobi to demand the arrest of individuals reported to have been behind the reported theft of funds meant for Covid-19 efforts.

Their basis was that the gathering was against the regulations that require that such meetings be limited to 15 people, with the appropriate measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Some observers would state that the police intervention and the issue that was the subject of the protests were inevitable. With public funds comes the perception that somebody will be looking to take advantage.

The reported theft represents yet another headache for the President to deal with as he works to cement his legacy, with the pandemic already an issue that has called for clear and strategic thinking and gambles that could be risky.
It has also given Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe as he proceeds, as quietly and efficiently as he can in the circumstances, to uproot a cartel that has given the ministry’s headquarters the name Mafya House.

One of the available options is to ask the Auditor-General to carry out an audit of the use of the funds received by the National Treasury. While that could go some way, the Auditor-General’s officers move at their own pace, and the truth they dig up could come up long after the issue has lost currency.

An investigation by the relevant agencies, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, could similarly not be timely.

Still, the Ministry will be keen on making some quick wins and if the matter cannot be well-explained, the burden remains.

For now, it will be important to mark the companies and individuals identified so far as we have seen with other scandals, the repercussions usually extend to their bankers and associated companies.

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