Ugandan Commission Demands Investigation of Ministers Over Funds
June 2, 2006
A government commission probing alleged mismanagement of global AIDS funds in Uganda is recommending Health Minister Jim Muhwezi, his deputy and other high-level officials face possible prosecution for diverting millions of aid dollars for personal use and unaccounted expenditures.
Headed by High Court Judge James Ogoola, the commission said senior ministers and bureaucrats appointed relatives and friends to manage the ministry's Project Management Unit (PMU), which oversaw project funds from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The commission report said ministry officials, among others, diverted the AIDS money to other ministries; used some of the funding to pay for medical bills abroad for a ruling party official; and cashed checks for nonexistent trips and seminars and for car fuel. The report accused Muhwezi of personally ordering about $3,000 transferred to three ministers who were campaigning for a 2005 political party referendum.
The Global Fund, which had earmarked $201 million for Uganda's AIDS effort, suspended the grant in August 2005 after a program audit cited gross mismanagement of the funds by Ugandan officials. At the time of the suspension, $45 million had already been disbursed. The fund provided money only for vital programs such as drug-procurement and condom-distribution while it awaited the outcome of the commission's probe.
The report said Muhwezi created a "false impression" that Uganda could absorb large grant sums at a rapid pace, a situation that led to gross mismanagement. PMU staff who allegedly diverted Global Fund money into personal accounts "should refund the money," the report said.
A spokesperson for President Yoweri Museveni confirmed receipt of the commission's report. However, scores of such commission findings, most involving corruption, have never been followed-up.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.