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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

When the USA client state rots to the core: Health centres in Uganda suffer as money is diverted to pay for GAVI fraud: mean while Like Kaboyo, Muhwezi, Kamugisha have been set free by chief magistrate IRENE AKANKWASA


Comment from Tom Voltaire Okwalinga

I have been briefed by highly placed and concerned judiciary officials who revealed that they have impeccable information that the anti corruption chief magistrate IRENE AKANKWASA is abusing her powers by giving highly connected criminals light sentences and fines and letting others off the hook in cases where the evidence is overwhelming.The concerned officers have expressed fears that this woman whom they say, gets orders from above recently made a woman who confessed to stealing 210 million shillings pay just a fine of 20 million after she (the magistrate) consulted with state house.The same magistrate has today acquitted two thieving former ministers who stole 2.6 billion shillings meant for fighting malaria and TB.


They are not thieves , they might be embezzlers : Uganda Court drops Charges against Mukula and Muhwezi  


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Health centres suffer as money is diverted to pay for GAVI fraud

Wednesday, 01 August 2012 00:25

Written by David Tash Lumu

Following a cabinet directive requiring him to divert Shs 1.89bn meant to refurbish rural hospitals and refund money allegedly misappropriated from the GAVI account, Dr Asuman Lukwago, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Health, is secretly seeking retrospective approval of the funds, The Observer has learnt.

Lukwago diverted the Shs 1.89bn after it emerged that most of the people implicated in misappropriating GAVI money had failed to refund it. GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) funds were meant for the treatment of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, and for immunization, but government officials allegedly swindled a chunk of the money.

The GAVI secretariat had issued a conditionality of a refund of the money before another sum of $20m could be dispatched. Subsequently, President Museveni reportedly summoned a cabinet meeting on March 24, 2010 in Kampala, and ministers resolved that Shs 1.89bn should be diverted from the ministry of Health budget “to replenish the missing funds on the GAVI account”.

According to cabinet minutes, a copy of which The Observer has obtained, minute 99 CT 2010 states that the ministers “authorised the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to permit the ministry of Health to reallocate Shs 1.89bn to replenish the missing funds on the GAVI account, as agreed between the government of Uganda and GAVI Alliance.”

The Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2003 decrees that reallocation of any budgeted funds in any ministry must be authorized by the Secretary to Treasury, but this procedure was not followed, and the Health ministry is now trying to conceal the omission. The Observer has obtained a copy of a letter from Dr Asuman Lukwago, asking the Secretary to Treasury, Chris Kassami, to retrospectively approve the reallocation. Dr Lukwago explains in the July 25, 2012 letter that after the cabinet directive, the ministry of Health was told to take “immediate action”.

“Consultations were made both on phone and through a series of meetings, in which the ministry of Health was urged to take immediate action to implement a cabinet decision,” Lukwago’s letter states.

“However, the letter authorising the ministry [of Health] to reallocate was not issued by your ministry [Finance] as required by the law. This omission is highly regretted. The purpose of this letter is to request you to issue retrospective authority to validate the reallocation, which was done, and the funds are still on the GAVI account.”

Lukwago’s request comes at a time when MPs on the Public Accounts Committee are investigating the matter after the Auditor General (AG) discovered that the irregular diversion of the money cost the implementation of other activities in the ministry of Health, particularly rural health centres, whose refurbishment the Shs 1.89bn had been intended to fund.

The AG’s 2009/10 report noted: “This amount had not been budgeted for and was, therefore, diverted from other planned ministry activities. The amount in question should have been refunded by the implicated officials. As a result, there was no value for money realized for the expenditure.”

Yet the Auditor General noted that there was no need to breach the law (by reallocating the money without authorization) because the people who allegedly misappropriated the funds were known and were meant to repay it. When contacted, PAC chairman, Kassiano Wadri (Terego county MP), concurred with the AG.

“Whether they seek retrospective approval or not, the government officials who diverted these funds must answer or refund the money,” Wadri said.

The Observer has learnt that the undersecretary in the ministry of Health, Ssenyonga Kyambadde, recently furnished the PAC with a list of officials who were implicated in the misappropriation of GAVI funds, including those who refunded money. The officials that refunded include Nusura Tiperu (Shs 6.3m), Peter Aggrey Kafuko (Shs 21.4m), Hadija Wegisasa (Shs 13.5m) and Mike Mukula (Shs 239.8m).

Gavi case: Muhwezi, Kamugisha set free but Mukula has case

The Anti-Corruption Court yesterday acquitted and discharged two of the three former health ministers accused of mismanaging Shs1.6 billion meant for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi).

Chief Magistrate Irene Akankwasa acquitted Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi and Dr Alex Kamugisha over charges of causing financial loss, abuse of office and embezzlement, citing no incriminating evidence by the prosecution.

However, the same court ordered Capt. Mike Mukula to defend himself by explaining the whereabouts of Shs210 million that he received from the Gavi account for purposes of youth and women advocacy in the office of the First Lady.

Ms Akankwasa explained that there was sufficient evidence adduced by the IGG that Capt. Mukula received Shs263m from the Gavi fund account for purposes of promoting advocacy but only accounted for Shs53m.

“Prosecution witness 7 (Muhammed Kezaala, then PS) testified that an individual who receives money, must account for it. In the circumstances, I find that a prima facie case has been made out and A2 (Mukula) should account for the money he received,” ruled the magistrate.

Capt. Mukula was jointly charged with Maj Gen. Muhwezi over embezzlement. However, Ms Akankwasa while letting Muhwezi off the hook on this count noted that there was no evidence on record that he received the money in question.

Shortly after the ruling, Capt. Mukula, who is Soroti Municipality MP, said he was relieved since the ‘bigger’ charge had been dropped. “I am happy that the main charge of abuse of office has been dropped and what is left is a simple one,” said Capt. Mukula who was in company of his wife Gladys and lawyer Fred Muwema.

Ready for case
He added: “I am ready to explain the whereabouts of Shs210m since I returned it to Bank of Uganda. Muhwezi, the former PS and the undersecretary are my witnesses plus some officials from Bank of Uganda.” Capt. Mukula now faces only one charge of embezzlement after charges of abuse of office and causing financial loss were dropped due to lack of incriminating evidence by prosecution.

Court has set September 7 for Mukula to start his defence. His lawyer, Mr Muwema, told court shortly after the ruling that his client intends to give his defence on oath. Earlier while acquitting Maj. Gen Muhwezi and Dr Kamugisha, the magistrate noted that then accounting officer at the Ministry of Health (Muhammed Kezaala), testified in court that he took personal responsibility of all the payments made in regard to Gavi funds and that none of the two former ministers had a hand in the money scam.

A jolly Muhwezi said he was happy the truth had finally come out and has set him free.

Former health ministers acquitted over GAVI funds

Publish Date: Aug 01, 2012

By Vision Reporter

TheAnti- Corruption Court
Tuesday afternoon acquitted former heath ministers of all charges of accused of mismanaging Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. .

The three former ministers Jim Muhwezi, Mike Mukula and Dr. Alex Kamugisha were facing different charges connected to the mismanagement of sh1.6b GAVI funds.

Mukula however has a case to answer in connection to embezzlement the judge ruled.

A total of thirteen prosecution witnesses testified saying the three former ministers did nothing wrong as far the procedures of requisitioning for funds   are concerned.

During submission the defence team led by Oscar Kambona asked the Anti- Corruption Court to find no case to answer against the accused.  He said the state had failed to adduce evidence incriminating the accused therefore the court should acquit them.

Kambona said all the eight prosecution witnesses who testified, none of them said   the ministers stole GAVI funds.

The state also dropped charges of theft and causing financial loss against the former ministers, but still maintained charges of abuse of office and embezzlement.

Kambona said as far as the financial management is concerned the three former ministers had no role in approving payment and they should not be held accountable.

Kambona argued that   prosecution had failed to make out a prima facie case against the accused. He based his submission on the evidence by former permanent secretary Mohammed Kezaala who confirm to court that there was no loss of funds.

Sydney Asubo, the director of legal affairs from the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) said the three former ministers usurp the powers of accounting officer and took over his role.

Asubo said the three former ministers gave the impression that their actions were sanctioned by the State House. He submitted that prosecution has made out a prima facie case that requires the accused to defend themselves.

The prosecution alleges that the former ministers ignored the law and regulations governing the disbursement of public funds by taking direct control of the money.