By UG Reports
KAMPALA: A senior official at the Ministry of Health has been fined shs22.5 million on top of demotion after being found guilty of using one of the government Covid response vehicles for his personal errands according to Nile Post.
James Tukahirwa, a Senior Assistant Secretary or Transport Officer used two Ministry of Health Covid response vehicles to ferry building materials to his private sites in Kazo, Kyegegwa, Kampala and Ntungamo districts until they were seized by the IGG on December, 14, 2021.
Becoming the first person to be convicted under the new Leadership Code Tribunal headed by Dr. Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa and prosecuted by the IGG, Tukahirwa pleaded guilty to the charges.
“We note that the respondent(Tukahirwa) noted the breach, was willing to make good the damage , expressed remorse and didn’t waste the tribunal’s time. However, abuse of government property is a serious breach. Taking into account the circumstances of this case and all the above, the tribunal rejects the respondent’s prayer to be warned or cautioned as punishment. We view such caution or warning as a too lenient and a mere slap on the wrist,” the tribunal ruled.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health senior official had pleaded guilty to the charges after telling the tribunal that he thought the vehicles were part of the ministry’s welfare scheme.
This was corroborated by statements of several drivers under Tukahirwa who said he always used the vehicles on a number of time.
The tribunal however, blasted the Ministry of Health for having weak internal systems that could not deter this abuse of office.
“That this abuse was repeatedly committed but not detected, corrected or punished by the Ministry of Health by the Public Service Standing Orders 2021 points to a weakness in the internal control systems of the ministry which in the tribunal’s view should be addressed urgently.”
The tribunal emphasized the need for the Health Ministry to ensure public resources and assets put at their disposal to ensure health of Ugandans are put to the intended task and use and not abused for private gain.
“The tribunal has however taken into account the plea of guilty by the respondent which saved the tribunal’s time and resources, his remorsefulness, agreement to pay shs22.5 million to make good the loss occasioned by his abuse of government and the fact that he is a first offender with a 32 year public service record. For these reasons, the tribunal finds that the demotion is appropriate in the circumstances.”
The tribunal therefore directed that the shs22.5 million be deposited to the Inspectorate of Government’s Asset Recovery Account with Bank of Uganda whereas the senior official’s demotion be done immediately.
James Tukahirwa has become the first person to be convicted by the newly formed Leadership Code Tribunal.
Whereas it had been provided for in the Leadership Code Act, 2002, it was not until 2020.
The tribunal is mandated to, among other things, receive, examine and adjudicate any breach of the Code, make a decision on any matter referred to it by the IGG and submit it to the authorised person/authority for action.
The Leadership Code Tribunal is headed by Dr. Roselyn Irene Karugonjo Ssegawa as its chairperson and deputized by Asuman Kiyingi.
Other Tribunal members are Jane Arume Okellowange, Didas Bakunzi Mufasha and Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso , all of whom were part of the panel that sentenced the Ministry of Health senior official.