… Amid suspension of Health PS Mwoombola
By Marianne Nghidengwa
THE Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has launched an investigation into suspended Health and Social Services Permanent Secretary, Dr Andreas Mwoombola, over allegations that he irregularly or unprocedurally awarded N$250 million worth of tenders to companies allegedly linked to him and other officials in the ministry.
Confirming the probe, ACC Director Paulus Noa told Confidente on Wednesday that a case was opened against Mwoombola and other health officials over allegations pertaining to tenders.
“All I know is that we are investigating a case of unprocedurally awarding tenders,” Noa said.
Mwoombola was suspended on Tuesday, but it is expected that more suspensions are to follow shortly.
The ACC has since confiscated work computers and piles of documents, which will be used in the investigation.
Confidente is also reliably informed that the entities that benefited from the tenders are relatively new briefcase companies, with the majority having been formed in 2015.
One such company that benefited is allegedly owned by a former personal assistant in the ministry.
It is alleged that the company received N$16 million worth of tenders over a period of nine months.
It is also alleged that the third implicated official has been pushing for payments related to the tenders, while allegedly claiming that such directives were coming from Haufiku, when in actual fact this was not true.
Haufiku said on Wednesday that he is not able to comment, as this would jeopardise the ACC probe.
It has emerged during initial investigations that the implicated officials had allegedly created a series of crises around projects and programmes in the ministry, which they then used to acquire medical equipment without these acquisitions being put out to tender.
As part of these so-called buyout activities, where the purchase of supplies and equipment were not put out to tender, the ministry ended up paying massively inflated prices. An example has already been cited, where the ministry ended up paying N$5 000 for a unit of medicine on several occasions, while the real cost is normally N$300 per unit.
In other instances, medicine and equipment were allegedly purchased at inflated prices, although it was not needed.
Cabinet Secretary George Simataa announced Mwoombola’s suspension on Tuesday evening.
He said that the PS had been suspended with immediate effect, over alleged misconduct.
“In view of the alleged misconduct, implicating the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Andreas Mwoombola is suspended from office in terms of Section 27 of the Public Service Act, with immediate effect, for a limited period of time,” the letter reads in part.
Simataa said further that the suspension is to enable unhindered investigations to be carried out, in order to get to the bottom of the misconduct allegations.
“While the suspension (is in force) and the investigation is being carried out, Ms Bertha Katjivena will be Acting Permanent Secretary.”
Mwoombola was not available for comment at the time of going to print, as several text messages and calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
He joined the ministry in 2015, amid sighs of relief, after it had previously made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
A human resource management and performance management expert, Mwoombola holds a Doctorate of Management from the Swiss Management Centre University and a Master of Science Degree in Human Resources Management from the same institution, among several other academic achievements.
Confidente reported at the time of his PS appointment that Mwoombola was headhunted to lead a cleaning up exercise in the ministry, after a massive rot had set in, which included irregular tender awards, dilapidated and substandard infrastructure, poor working conditions for staff, a high staff turnover, the ill-treatment of patients and perennial drug shortages, among others.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015