KAMPALA: A high-ranking official in the health ministry has been downgraded in his job because he admitted to using government COVID-19 response cars to move his own construction materials. He did this voluntarily.
In over 32 years of public service work, James Tukahirwa, a Senior Assistant Secretary/Transport Officer at the health ministry, was downgraded in the work ranks because of this.
However, the new rank he was demoted to was not indicted in the ruling delivered yesterday. In the first case, Dr. Roselyn Karugonjo-Segawa, the new head of the new Leadership Code Tribunal, degraded Tukahirwa and made him pay a fine of Shs22.5 million, making him the first person to be punished under the new law.
In conclusion, taking all of the foregoing into account, the tribunal rejects the respondent’s request to be warned or cautioned as punishment. The Tribunal stated that such a warning or caution is “too soft” and amounts to a “slap on the wrist,” adding that “considering the respondent’s guilty plea, which saved the tribunal’s time and resources, his remorsefulness, his agreement to pay Shs22.5m to make good the loss occasioned by his abuse of government vehicles, and the fact that he is a first offender with a 32-year public service record.” In those conditions, a demotion would be appropriate.
The Shs22.5m fine will be deposited on the IGG asset recovery account with the Bank of Uganda. The Tribunal’s records show that Tukahirwa breached the Leadership Code when he used the ministry of health’s vehicles, UG 6945M and UG 6646M, for personal use.
The vehicles in question were meant to support the COVID-19 response. However, Tukahirwa said he thought they were part of the welfare scheme of the ministry.
Tukahirwa went ahead and used them to transport building and construction materials to his private sites in Kyegegwa, Kazo, Ntungamo, and Munyonyo in Kampala.
The said vehicles, building materials, and Shs28 million were seized by the IGG on December 14, 2021.
He pleaded guilty to the offense and was willing to pay a fine of Shs22.5m, a sum arrived at by both parties during the initial stages of the hearing.
The Tribunal also ordered that the seized vehicles be returned to the health ministry and that the building materials be returned to Tukahirwa, who had them taken from his home.
Asuman Kiyingi (deputy chairperson), Jane Okelowange (member), Didas Bakunzi Mufasha (member), and Joyce Nalunga Birimumaaso (member) were also on the panel of the Leadership Code Tribunal, which is an important part of enforcing the Leadership Code of Conduct. The Tribunal also helps in the fight against corruption.