The Cabinet has released its White Paper on the findings and recommendations made by the Justice James Ogoola Commission of Inquiry into mismanagement of grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The White Paper, released this morning by Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi, upholds a majority of the recommendations on the Ogoola Commission, particularly those which require individuals and sub-recipients of the Fund to repay money that was not accounted for or misused. Among those required to refund misused Global Fund monies are the former Minister of Health Jim Muhwezi and his assistant minister, Mike Mukula, who jointly owe more than 60 million shillings.
However in the case of Mukula, Cabinet fell short of condemning him outright for the misuse of 8.5 million shillings that was intended for visits to Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Soroti, Kumi and Sironko. The White Paper notes that although Mukula only went to Kumi, it is not clear if his personal assistants received the money for the journey on his behalf or if they did so behind the former minister's back. It recommends an investigation on whether ministers or their personal assistants are responsible for funds.
In its report the Ogoola Commission recommended the commencement of criminal proceedings of perjury against both Muhwezi and Mukula for lying to it about their use of Global Fund monies. They were specifically accused of lying about their travels around Uganda to monitor Global Fund projects.
Cabinet upholds this recommendation in its White Paper and says it will request the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether both former ministers should be prosecuted for perjury.
Mukula was recently granted permission by the High Court to sue the Ogoola Commission. He wants a judicial review of the report on the grounds that there was no proper evaluation of all evidence provided before the commission. Mukula claims he was denied his constitutional right to a fair hearing.
The Cabinet White Paper also addresses the wide-scale diversion of Global Fund money by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mohammed Kezaala. As the principal signatory of the Global Fund Uganda bank account, Kezaala is accused of diverting money for activities outside the Global Fund.
The Ogoola Commission found that Kezaala diverted 60 million shillings for an immunization campaign, two million shillings for the 2005 national referendum campaigns and 36 million shillings for political supervision. It recommended that the suitability of Kezala as an accounting officer in a line ministry should be reconsidered.
Cabinet recommends that President Yoweri Museveni, as the appointing officer, should make a decision on Kezaala.
Another major official named in the White Paper is Dr. Tiberius Muhebwa, the former head of the Project Management Unit, an entity within the Ministry of Health that managed the Global Fund.
The Ogoola Commission established that Muhebwa lacked the managerial skills and qualifications to run the Project Management Unit and questions were raised regarding his appointment. However Cabinet notes that because he was screened by two separate consultants, Muhebwa was properly appointed.
This wasn't enough to get him off the hook. The White Paper wants Muhebwa investigated for any financial, criminal or inappropriate linkages with sub-recipients of the Global Fund, following evidence of financial impropriety.
Muhebwa is also in court requesting for a judicial review of the Ogoola Commission findings. He says he was denied his constitutional right to a fair hearing. He also acusses Justice James Ogoola of acting as a Judge, lead counsel and prosecutor and subjecting him to a criminal trial, during the hearings.