Thought and Ideas
Of IDs, Oulanyah-Kadaga woes and fighter jets dirt
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 01:00
There are times when the most shameful matters become irresistibly comic. I don’t have space here to explain the unspeakable suffering I saw at our National Referral Hospital. The three haunting nights I slept at Mulago Hospital before the “heartbreak” shook me to the core. For instance, on the day we lost baby Hayrah, I understood that the will of God is never exactly what we expect it to be. Sometimes it may seem to be much worse, but we accept His will and move on, hoping that in the end, it’s going to be a lot better.
For the record, the death of my baby had nothing to do with the “sickness” of Mulago Hospital. It was purely Allah’s will. But one man I met at Mulago Mosque told me he knows that his mother died from natural causes, but that the lack of care accelerated her death.
From the shame of inadequate doctors at a national referral hospital to insufficient and rotting kits; from uncaring medical students to helpless patients; from reeking and congested wards to snobbish nurses – the cocktail of hitches at this jam-packed facility—regurgitates the embracing story of our sick health sector.
With a daily influx of about 1,000 patients, it is only fair that the authorities prioritise the health sector before it is too late. In the discussion I had with one of the doctors, I was told that the emergency paediatric unit receives more than 200 patients daily yet many other frantic parents are simply sent away.
o cut a hurting story short, even with this trauma, from the chat with displeased doctors; they blamed the hopelessness at the hospitals in the country on corruption. A dejected lady in her 20s told me how her sick mother was left in a corridor for several hours, and denied medication because she lacked a referral letter.
Other infuriated ladies I met in the corridors cursed the authorities for doing little as Ugandans suffer.
In trying to stop the corruption that has instigated the suffering in public facilities, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee last week started investigating the scam in the award and implementation of a botched National Security Information System Project where taxpayers have lost more than Shs300 billion.
The Committee heard that Mühlbauer High Tech International, a German firm that was given the deal in March 2010 failed to deliver.
There were also reports of conflict of interest and fraud in the project. Information before the Committee shows that before accounting for Shs300b lost in the deal, Ministry of Internal Affairs officials are now demanding for another Shs500 billion to revamp the botched ID project.
The MPs on Tuesday reduced Internal Affairs ministry bureaucrats into a bunch of “listening posts” and dismissed Dr Stephen Kagoda, the permanent secretary, “with disgrace” after he failed to explain the “rot” in the project.
Trouble started after Dr Kagoda failed to provide evidence that the procurement authority approved the single sourcing of Mühlbauer High Tech International, at a cost of EUR 64m (Shs221.8 billion) in 2010. When the PS returned to the Committee on Wednesday he tabled a letter from the former Finance Minister Syda Bbuma, communicating the decisions from a State House meeting with Germany Ambassador who allegedly introduced Mühlbauer to the President. The probe continues.
Kadaga Vs Oulanyah
There is a saying that “when elephants fight, the grass suffers”. A friend told me the other day that in the Old Testament there are various examples of leaders and important people fighting among themselves and causing suffering to other people, especially “little” people, for example, Cain and Abel, Saul and David, etc.
This proverb plays its relevance to today’s society and points immediately to the rift between Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah.
Mr Oulanyah drew the first blood when he, in the media, accused his boss of setting him up.
Speaking on the popular KFM talk show, Hard Talk, early this month, Mr Oulanyah said he felt he was being used by Kadaga to oversee the passing of the controversial bills. His fear was that his involvement in the “political dirt” had made him unpopular.
During the talk show, Mr Oulanyah narrated how he had just arrived in the country from the US on the eve of the voting on the Oil Bill in November 2012, when he got a call from Ms Kadaga, asking him to chair yet he was tired.
In exercising her right of reply, Ms Kadaga last week put records straight. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Monitor on Monday, Ms Kadaga said if anything has gone against Mr Oulanyah, it is because of his personal weaknesses. She said everything controversial in the House she handled.
Ms Kadaga added that it is Oulanyah’s way of handling issues that makes things controversial. She cited handling the oil debate, the marriage and divorce bill, the issue of rebel MPs and the Gen David Sejusa and Justice Benjamin Odoki issues as top controversial things that she has handled.
She took a swipe at her deputy for washing their dirty linen in the media and also, as if revealing the genesis of their icy relationship, Kadaga said she made a cash contribution of Shs500,000 towards Mr Oulanyah’s wedding and that she had no role in purchase of Kabaka’s portrait reportedly given to him as a gift.
Fighter Jets scandal
The ghosts of Shs1.7 trillion withdrawn from Bank of Uganda to purchase fighter jets without parliamentary approval returned to haunt Central Bank Governor Emmaual Tumusiime-Mutebile.
The Parliamentary Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises grilled the Governor for hours on Tuesday. Trouble started after the Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile refused to surrender the Memorandum of Understanding between the bank and the government. The Governor said he didn’t have the document and referred the Committee to President Museveni who ordered him to release the money.
In July 2011, a UK-based newspaper quoted the Governor saying President Museveni’s erratic policies and the government’s fiscal indiscipline had led to higher inflation and declining foreign reserves. Tumusiime-Mutebile told the Financial Times newspaper that he had disagreed with Mr Museveni over the decision to spend $740 million on fighter jets, which has pushed reserves down from six to four months of import cover.
“He gave me some promises which he has not kept – like a way to redress the reserves. I’m still fighting with him,” he said of the government’s controversial decision to turn to the central bank to help finance $720m for fighter jets. This sent reserves down from six months’ worth of imports to four.
The Committee resolved to meet the President.