The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine has dragged to court the former Director General of Health Services of the same Ministry, Prof Anthony K. Mbonye over defamation in his self-published book, Uganda’s Health Sector – Through Turbulent Politics (1958-2018).
In his book, Mbonye says the appointment of inexperienced junior officers to influential positions in the Health Ministry has undermined the quality of services delivered in the health sector.
He stated that a litany of in-fighting and power struggles led to his resignation.
Now, the allegations by the Senior Doctor have ignited Dr Atwine to sue him saying her name has been tarnished and defamed by the allegations she says are false.
“In November 2018, the defendant [Prof Mbonye] authored and published a book titled ‘Uganda’s Health Sector through turbulent politics (1958-2018) with various chapters defaming the plaintiff [Dr Atwine],” reads Dr Atwine’s suit documents.
“On page 121 of the book, Chapter VIII titled Politics and Crisis of Leadership in the Health Sector 2010-2018, the defendant [Dr Mbonye] authored and published the following words; earlier the little known but vicious Dr Diana Atwine had sought to capitalize on her closeness to the First Family in order to ascend the hierarchy of the health sector but without much success,” Dr Atwiine states.
She contends that the allegations made against her by Prof Mbonye are completely false and his actions were malicious, careless, callous and wanton.
Atwine also contends that the defamatory statements have been widely circulated by the defendant among the public in Uganda and internationally through the sale of the book and its review online.
Atwine now demands an apology from Prof Mbonye, general damages, exemplary damages, a permanent injunction, interest and costs of the suit.
How it started
Prof Mbonye was appointed Acting Director General of Health Services in June 2016 but the Inspector General of Government (IGG) investigated claims that he had re-written the job description to benefit him when interviews were conducted to fill the position substantially.
It was established then that there was a conflict of interest in Prof Mbonye not informing the Permanent Secretary of his application for the job and he was removed from his position in September 2017.
He was then reinstated as he challenged the decision in the High Court.
On January 31, 2018, Justice Henrietta Wolayo dismissed the IGG’s findings and ruled that there had been no conflict of interest and that Prof Mbonye had not been given a fair hearing, but the ruling was unfortunately passed two days after Prof Mbonye had resigned.