By Adieri Mulaa
Kenya Defence Forces has not strayed into the management of State owned enterprises and government organisations whose services to the public were lackadaisical.
KDF is currently involved in the rehabilitation and resuscitation of State enterprises that had either collapsed or were run down due to incessant bad governance and management of the organisations by their own employees.
The affected public organisations had become hallmarks of ineptitude, riddled with high level corruption and lacklustre performance. Even though, political leaders have been opposed to KDF moving in to salvage collapsing or run down public sectors, claiming it was illegal.
Recently however, the chief of defence forces, Gen Robert Kibochi demystified such accusations that the military had unlawfully taken over operations in State agencies including key functions of Nairobi City County Government.
“KDF is part and parcel of the Kenyan society. We only act within the provisions of the Constitution to defend the country from external aggression and in the civilian roles we are currently performing in public interest for the benefit of Kenyans and our country”, says Gen. Kibochi.
In an exclusive interview on Citizen TV’s popular JK Live show on Wednesday, 3rd October, 2021, Gen. Kibochi pointed out that the Constitution in Article 241(3) (a), (b) and (c) explicitly mandates KDF to discharge its role in the interest and common good of citizens and the country.
On 18th March, 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the establishment of Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) anchored in the Office of the President and appointed Lt Gen Mohamed Badi (then Maj Gen.) as the Director General.
The NMS immediately took over the management of functions which were transferred by the Nairobi City County Government to the National Government under a Deed of Transfer.
Nonetheless, several politicians acting in concert both in and outside of Parliament blamed President Kenyatta for what they termed as “militarizing” operations of the Nairobi City County Government.
They would later hurl even more accusations at the President following the subsequent impeachment of former controversial Nairobi governor, Mike Mbuvi Sonko, by the County Assembly and eventually by the Senate, to seal his fate at City Hall.
Governor Sonko transferred some key functions of the County Government to the National Government when it became apparent that his administration was unable to provide commensurate services to the city residents in the sectors as required by the Constitution.
But the NMS has received the necessary support from Nairobi City County Assembly to be able to effectively carry out its mandate under the Deed of Transfer.
Earlier at a recent benchmarking meeting between Members of County Assembly the budget committee from Kilifi and their counterparts in Nairobi, it was disclosed that the NMS had curtailed rampant bribes contractors and suppliers were previously subjected to for their payments to be processed or cheques released.
During the television interview, the soft spoken defence chief singled out the responsibilities the President had assigned to the KDF including revival of the Kenya Meat Commission, rehabilitation of the Nairobi – Nanyuki and Nairobi – Kisumu – Butere rail lines, which had been disused for over two decades. He described the projects as success stories.
Article 241 (3) (a) states that “the defence forces are responsible for the defence and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic”.
Further, Sub Article (3) (b) provides that “the defence forces shall assist and cooperate with other authorities in situations of emergency or disaster, and report to the National Assembly whenever deployed in such circumstances”.
Gen. Kibochi says KMC now supplies beef to KDF and other uniformed services including the Kenya Prisons, Kenya Wildlife Service, the National Police Service and Kenyatta National Hospital among other institutions.
The latest catch is the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority where the National Government has reportedly called in personnel from KDF the NYS to temporarily manage operations at the agency.
The public drugs and medical equipment supplies agency has been highly mismanaged with a history of dubious tenders involving billions of shillings, lately being the KEMSA COVID – 19 scandal.
Since the beginning of devolved government in 2013, both the Council of Governors and individual county Governors have constantly blamed KEMSA for poor health services and lack of drugs in the county hospitals and health centres.
County governments say KEMSA holds them to ransom by not supplying drugs and other equipment in time, despite delayed disbursement of capitation funds from the National Treasury to the county treasuries.
As a result, medical services in the counties have remained in desolation over the last nine years although Health is a devolved function under the Constitution.
Reports indicate KDF personnel had already moved to KEMSA headquarters to take up management roles. They join a team of personnel from the NYS which had reported earlier.
About a week ago, KEMSA Board directed all non – core staff to work from home in the wake of emerging developments in the organisation’s management.
And in a twist of events that could stall services, the Employment and Labour Relations Court has stopped KDF and NYS from taking over management operations at KEMSA.
The court has also directed the Board not to declare employees redundant until the matter is heard and determined.