Citing open institutionalised corruption and bribery at Moroto hospital, a whistle-blower has written to the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House to open an expansive investigation into the eastern region facility.
In a June 26, 2019 letter, which The Observer has seen, addressed to Col. Edith Nakalema, Head, Anti-Corruption Unit at State House, the whistle-blower claims Geoffrey Mawa, the Moroto hospital acting accounting officer, and Onegius Otim, the hospital administrator, are misusing hospital funds and property “under the watch, knowledge and protection of some ministry of Health officials.
The whistle-blower accuses the two officers of recruiting only locals who can pay kick-backs, handpicking contractors and consultants without following proper public procurement processes as well as hiring their own companies as service providers for the hospital. In the letter, the whistle-blower urges the president to intervene and stop the two officers from misusing public resources.
“Corruption and misuse of public funds is practiced directly through contractors; Musuuza Construction Company, consultants; Plantek Consultancy and service providers; Global Media Connection,” reads part of the letter.
Global Media Connection is owned by Mawa, the hospital’s accounting officer, while Kerwodde, a service delivery company, is managed by Otim’s girlfriend, the whistle-blower claims. According to the letter, through their handpicked construction contractors, the two hospital officials have reduced the size of the building under construction at the hospital and used the funds to build personal buildings and buy sports utility vehicles.
“Boarded-off vehicles were sold off and the monies disappeared without being banked in the consolidated funds account, two generators have disappeared, a Land Rover vehicle was purportedly repaired at inflated rates at Shs 14,800,000 to facilitate the officers’ spending sprees,” the whistle-blower claims.
The whistle-blower also says vehicles are hidden under the pretext of being repaired only to be sold off as scrap in different garages in Kampala. And that fuel meant to support hospital activities is given to confidants in political offices.
“There is a very big coordinated racket to remove; they hijack letters in offices, threaten people with death and claim to work in the president’s office and hence are untouchable,” the whistle-blower claims and calls for an immediate investigation and forensic audit at the hospital.
The whistle-blower claims the hospital director has called for the interdiction of the two errant officials but Kampala has been slow to act.
Interviewed for comment last week, Emmanuel Ainebyona, the ministry of Health spokesman, confirmed the ministry has received complaints about corruption at Moroto hospital.
“As the ministry, we have heard the complaints, which we are still investigating to ascertain their credibility but as of now I’m not in position to provide any details,” he said.
He said since State House has been notified, then the case will be properly investigated. Interviewed, Mawa said he was investigated and cleared of any wrongdoing. He said the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) investigated and found he did not own any company doing business with the hospital.
He said, however, there were cases of irregularities in recruitment of staff but blamed it on the hospital human resource department.
“It is the human resource department that carried out the recruitment that was marred by irregularities but not my office,” he said, adding that upon discovering the irregularities, the hospital board cancelled the recruitment process.
“We are moving on well with the construction of the buildings and I implore the ministry to come and verify if the money was diverted for personal use as alleged,” Mawa added.