The fate of 63 Ministry of Health officials who were implicated in the embezzlement of K2.5 billion donor money meant for HIV and Aids fight awaits the verdict of the Health Service Commission (HSC).
An audit report by National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that the money was siphoned from the ministry’s accounts through various dubious means between 2013 and 2015.
The money was from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume said in an interview yesterday they engaged the officials to hear their side of the story before HSC issues its verdict.
He said despite the outcome of the audit report some two months ago, the ministry cannot just fire them without hearing their side of the story.
“I know people have been wondering why they are back in office. Yes, they are [in the office] because at the moment they are not guilty until proven otherwise.
“If they are found guilty, it is not the ministry which will fire them per se, but the Health Service Commission which hired them in the first place,” he said.
Kumpalume said the employees’ reports were submitted to the Health Service Commission.
“This is the final stage and we are waiting to hear from them and then we will make a decision,” he said.
Earlier, Parliamentary Committee on Health chairperson Juliana Lunguzi said the embezzlement of the funds was worrying, especially coming at a time the health sector is struggling to provide adequate services due to lack of funds.
The audit report, among others, implicated directors of finance, human resources and HIV in the ministry.