UGANDA: Government to pursue prosecution of Global Fund culprits
The Global Fund suspended all its grants to Uganda in 2005.
Kampala, 12 April 2007 (IRIN) - The Ugandan government has directed the police to commence investigations into alleged mismanagement of grants from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by a number of prominent politicians.
"We have prepared a government white paper and the police will play its role as directed," Information Minister Kirunda Kivejinja told IRIN/PlusNews.
The government paper orders more than 300 agencies that were Global Fund recipients to refund money not properly accounted for, and recommends that several senior health ministry officials be investigated for, among other things, interfering with judicial evidence, lying under oath and bribery.
In August 2005, the Global Fund temporarily suspended grants amounting to more than US$200 million, citing "serious mismanagement". The suspension was lifted three months later, after assurances by the government that it would look into the matter.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appointed a judicial commission of inquiry, which recommended in its May 2006 report that former health minister Jim Muhwezi and his two deputies, Alex Kamugisha and Mike Mukula, undergo further questioning with a view to prosecution.
Civil society and Uganda's donors have expressed concern that the matter was not being treated with the urgency it deserved.
"It is not true that we receive reports and we don't take action," Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi said on Tuesday. "Government takes note of the recommendations and we have given the CID [Criminal Investigation Department] six months to investigate these cases, so that the Director of Public Prosecutions can determine who they can prosecute."
The Global Fund recently declined a grant application from Uganda for $16 million to fight malaria and TB because of "unsatisfactory performance", a move analysts believe reflects the Fund's dissatisfaction with the government's failure to deal with previous mismanagement.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]