Back off now! Ruto tells MPs fighting Sicily

Deputy President William Ruto has moved to end a plot by MPs to impeach Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

By yesterday, at least 150 MPs are said to have signed up on a motion to impeach the CS, commonly known as Sicily, for suspending Kenyatta National Hospital CEO Lily Koros.

This is well above the 117 required under the Standing Orders for a motion for the impeachment of a Cabinet Secretary to be tabled in the National Assembly.

The KNH Board suspended Koros last week in the heat of public outrage over an incident in which doctors tried to perform brain surgery on the wrong patient.

The hospital’s board appointed Thomas Mutie as acting Chief Executive Officer, pending the investigations before Sicily sent her on compulsory leave.  Leaders from her native Rift Valley region rallied to the defence of “our own”, arguing that she was being “victimised”.

Ruto is reported to have called vocal MPs and Senators from the Rift Valley in the last two days and asked them to abandon the impeachment motion and instead find other ways of resolving their issues.

“Yes, the DP has told us to stop what we are doing, but I can tell you we are not. The motion has very wide support,” said an MP from Rift Valley.

Read: At least 124 MPs sign motion to impeach Health CS Sicily Kariuki

Also read: KNH woes signal total breakdown in management of public affairs

The MPs say they will present the proposal to Speaker Justin Muturi for approval if they get more than 180 MPs.

Yesterday, the anti-Sicily MPs claimed they want her out because she is arrogant, disrespectful and has no regard for rules and procedures.

Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi told the Star yesterday that they were determined to kick out the CS “because she refused to respect the decision by the Board of the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency to appoint the top candidate for the position of CEO.”

Gedi added: “We are very unhappy that she cancelled the recruitment process even after the board did its work according to the law.”

It was reported that Kemsa had recommended the appointment of Dr Waqo Dulacha after he beat Dr Joseph Sitienei and Dr Jonah Mwangi respectively in interviews last year.  The interviews were conducted by Manpower Services on June 27 2017.

Manpower, a private human resource consulting firm, sent six names to the Kemsa Board for a further interview that was conducted on July 20 2017.

Waqo reportedly emerged top in both interviews and the board recommended his appointment as CEO.

Gedi complains that the “the CS unilaterally wrote back to the board to re-advertise the position.”

“The big question is why she appointed the person recommended for Kemri and not Kemsa,” Gedi queried.

Sicily was appointed Health CS on January 26.

MPs are also angry that the CS’s office has been asking them to deposit their mobile phones with a security officer before entering her office whenever they go to see her.

But Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri said those attacking the CS and pushing for her removal were dishonest.

“The agenda is not the CS. It is something else bigger. Because the President has told all government officials to take personal responsibility for things that go wrong in their dockets, you will see most of them become firm and determined in getting rid of the rot,” he offered.

“Some of the people know they will be caught or their plans will be stopped so they are now using this issue to create the impression that some people are untouchable. This must be stopped,” Ngunjiri said.

Ngunjiri spoke as it emerged that some MPs could also have some vested interest in seeing the CS out.

Some of the lawmakers are said to own firms enjoying well-paying contracts for the supply of goods and consultancy services, underscoring their efforts to have Koros retained.

Kenyatta Hospital is the nation’s and region’s premier referral facility and receives massive funding from the Treasury. It also generates revenues from its services, making it one of the most lucrative and strategic parastatals.

In the 2017/18 financial year KNH received the highest chunk of the health budget, at Sh9.5 billion, while the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital — the country’s second largest —got Sh6.2 billion.

While the hospital also collected millions in revenue from its own sources, growing debts through unpaid bills — which stood at Sh5.4 billion last December — pose a threat to efficient service delivery.

Some of the lucrative tenders at KNH include supply of foodstuffs, hospital bedding, multi-billion-shilling machines and equipment.

Among forthcoming projects whose tenders are already out is one for the construction of the ultra-modern Cancer Centre, Paediatric Emergency Centre and Burns Management Centre.

The hospital has also advertised a restricted tender for the supply and delivery of endoscopy consumables.

 

The Star has also learnt that some of the MPs allied to Ruto, and who have been grumbling over a raw deal in the Jubilee Cabinet appointments, are out to hit back by ousting Kariuki.

There has been disquiet within the Rift Valley Jubilee fraternity over the recent appointments, with some claiming the engagements did not favour the region.

With Koros’s suspension having taken a political dimension and Rift Valley MPs spoiling for a fight, lawmakers from the President’s Central backyard have also dug in.

The friction comes barely 100 days after Jubilee assumed office for the second term and is the first sign of an open rift in the ruling party.

As anti-Sicily MPs continued to collect signatures to force her out of office yesterday, Ngunjiri fired a warning salvo against ‘ethnic profiling.’

“The fact is that whatever is happening in KNH is a national crisis. Ethnic tribal bigotry therefore has no place if we are genuinely interested in getting a solution to such a national crisis,” he said.

The controversial lawmaker, not known to be a great champion of the DP, said it was “naïve and very short-term” to assume that divisive and partisan politics would “enable us to solve what are clear problems at the KNH.”

“The ‘Mtu wetu [one of our own]’ public outcry will not solve the problems that need solving,” said the first term MP in a statement defending the embattled CS.

Aldai MP Cornel Serem, a close ally of the DP, is the face behind Sicily’s ouster bid that has attracted 152 out of 349 MPs.

It remains to be seen if the motion will be presented to the National Assembly when it resumes from recess, but Serem unapologetically said he would not turn back on his bid.

“The CS has no legal mandate to fire or even to direct the board to send the CEO on compulsory leave. My motion is ready and will be submitted to the House,” Serem said.

But as efforts to put out the fire intensified, Opposition MPs were warming up in support of the censure motion. Yesterday, Makueni MP Dan Maanzo — one of the few who have signed — signalled that most NASA MPs would back the ouster bid should it come to the floor.

“I signed the petition and I am on the front page. We will support the motion as NASA. We will vote for her exit. It is part of cleaning up this messy government,” Maanzo told the Star on the phone.

Admitting that Sicily “erred” by rushing to suspend Koros, National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali faulted Jubilee MPs for rushing to censure the CS without first exhausting available avenues.

“The mistake the CS made by hurrying to send Koros home is the same mistake that the Members who are signing the motion are making,” said the Mumias East MP.

He said the National Assembly committee on Health chaired by Murang’a MP Sabina Chege could have been the first port of call to unravel the riddle behind the surgery mess at KNH.

“The committee would have first summoned the CS along with the KNH management so that we can understand why the doctors did what they did and why the CS did what she did,” said Washiali in an interview with the Star.

He added: “Sacking the CEO is not solving the issue of operating on wrong patients; this is purely an administrative issue, she [Sicily] hurried, but as MPs we are hurrying too.”

On Tuesday, a section of governors and MPs drawn from the Rift Valley region – Ruto’s backyard – vowed to send Sicily home for victimising Koros.

 

Source The Star

 

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