Senior officials of the Ministry of Health including the permanent secretary, deputy permanent secretary, senior staff of the budget and procurement departments have been implicated in a corruption scandal involving the country’s coronavirus funds. 

A whistleblower last week named the senior officials at the Health ministry as some of the alleged ‘corrupt’ officials diverting the country’s coronavirus funds for personal gain.  

“We are here at the ministry dealing to some of the most heartless civil servants in the country. While people are worried senior officials at the ministry are worried about how much allowances they and their colleagues can get from the D500 Million the government is allocating for the fight against Covid-19 SARS-2,” the unnamed whistleblower said in a letter widely shared on Facebook. 

“The damage within the Health ministry is nothing I have seen anywhere in the Gambia. The Minister Samateh is a good man, but he does not understand the politics of greed these civil servants, are into. PS, DPS, Director, senior staff at the budget room, procurement etc, are all part and parcel of the problem. I am not saying they are all guilty, but after this problem they there should be an audit by a foreign firm. 

“These people are not worried by the Virus, but who to strike a deal with for contracts. Dr Samateh is clueless what is going on honestly, that is why the effort the ministry is not effective. Believe me there are too many task forces and no body know what the other is doing. It’s like they are in a competetion. A colleague told me the sharp elbows are out. These people do not want any other ministry to get involve in the fight against the virus. In public they are speaking about a united effort but they are blocking Defence and Interior.

“Now they want more money from AfDB to purchase equipment. There is no plan to spray public places until more money is available. Can you guess how many working ventilators are in the government hospitals? They are not planning to stock up on ventilators,  a veteran worker here told me, they are hoping to beg for ventilators and use the money made available to enrich themselves. This is not the first time a equipment shopping list has been ignored.”

The Health minister Dr Ahmadou Samateh told parliamentarians that there were corrupt officials were reprimanded for attempting to “steal from the funds”.

“We know we have people among us, they will not change and they will not give up trying to steal. They will keep on trying. But will they succeed? So if people try, and their trial leaks, I don’t think that calls for alarm,” the minister said.

However it is not clear whether the officials who were named by the whistleblower were the ones reprimanded for corrupt practices.

Members of the public urged the government to launch an investigation into the alleged corruption case at the Health ministry and take punitive actions against ‘corrupt’ officials. 

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