KAMPALA: Upon his swearing in as the new Attorney General (AG) of the republic of Uganda, counsel Kiwanuka Kiryowa vowed to clean the government Chief Legal Advisor’s office, by making services available to the public. Indeed the learned friend from Wakiso demonstrated this in a heated meeting that saw tycoon Tom Kaya’s body rescued from detention at TMR Hospital.
That exactly is the wrath that Dr. Daniel Mitchell Talemwa (who is supposed to be the Executive Director for Naalya-based TMR International Hospital) faced this Thursday morning when KK stormed a meeting at the Ministry of Health headquarters. The ill-fated Talemwa had been summoned to the Ministry headquarters to justify the continued detention of fallen Kampala tycoon Tom Kaya Kigonya’s body since Monday.
Since his demise, from suspected Covid19, at TMR Hospital, Kaya’s body has continued to be indefinitely detained until the family pays the more than Shs400m that is pending in hospital bills.
Because he was a high profile businessman, the detention of Kaya’s body has attracted plenty of media publicity since he isn’t one anyone would expect to have his body detained over mere hospital bills of all things. This scandalizing media publicity caused the MoH officials to feel pressured prompting State Minister Anifa Kawooya to convene the Thursday meeting to which the much-resented Talemwa was summoned along with officials from the relevant medical practitioners’ council that is supposed to regulate the conduct of the medical practice in this country.
Unknown to Kawooya and other officials at the Wandegeya-based Ministry, Gen Museveni had the previous (Wednesday) evening opted to intervene. Characteristic of him, Gen Museveni (on reading the alarming media reports) rang the family to understand if indeed what he was reading about the confinement of his diehard supporter’s body was true. They, as expected, confirmed the media reports.
An appalled Gen Museveni ordered guys at the State House switch board to urgently get for him his thick-skinned Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiryowa on line. “What does the law say? We need to do something because this nonsense of private hospitals detaining dead bodies is becoming too much and it’s even morally not right. What happened to the Ubuntu? How can anybody do that thinking it can become normal in any African Society?” sources quoted the furious man from Rwakitura as concurring with KK.
Being one who resents dragging of the feet on any matter, especially where it is his Principal expressing displeasure and issuing the directive, Kiryowa immediately got in touch with Cabinet colleagues at Health Ministry before rushing to personally join the Kawooya meeting at Wandegeya.
He found Anifa Kawooya furiously grilling Dr. Talemwa demanding to know what is moral about a hospital detaining a dead body (in an African country). The Kawooya meeting had mostly female officials from the Ministry and a remorseless Talemwa was busy lecturing them with the regulatory council officials vehemently backing him and nodding in approval of everything he kept saying trying to justify the continued confinement of Kaya’s remains. The backing Dr. Talemwa kept receiving from the regulatory council officials left many wondering where such elderly guys can really manage to regulate the sector anymore.
In her not so very good English, Kawooya wondered why many of the (Kaya-like Covid19) patients who get admitted and extorted to pay hundreds of millions at TMR end up dying yet at public facilities like Mulago only 1 in every hundred (1%) dies. Perhaps proud and indifferent because of the billions he has lately been minting off the Covid19 situation, Dr. Talema told Kawooya that was none of his business.
Not one to back off, Kawooya also demanded for clarification about rumors that since the Covid19 2nd wave dawned on the country, the hospital management has menacingly collected/confiscated over 100 land titles relating to very prime properties from cashless family members desiring to be given their relatives’ bodies. She didn’t get any straight answers and instead Dr. Talema (who most likely didn’t readily realize that the thin-sized man who had just walked into the meeting was the ruthless KK) resorted to lecturing Kawooya and MoH officials how he is such a patriot who even abandoned more gainful business opportunities abroad to return and contribute to nation-building in Uganda.
The pomp and confidence with which the flamboyant wealthy medic lectured only created more hopelessness in the room as Kawooya repeatedly demanded one quick and straight answer to the question: “will you release Tom Kaya’s body without being promptly paid the money or not?”
Seemingly unmoved, Dr. Talemwa said his money will have to be paid first because his is a business and not charity. “And in any case the body is now in the funeral home and we find all this pressure upon us unwarranted, “the stinking rich hospital owner assured the meeting as officials from the regulatory council (who Kawooya perceived as his supporters pretending to be regulators) nodded in approval.
It was then that the pencil-thin KK, who had sat in the meeting quietly, exploded like thunder and within just seconds the hitherto fire-spiting Dr. Talemwa had been deflated. “As I wind up my submission I want to make it clear to you that you must release that body and now. And this is a directive from me as the Attorney General of this country and not a request,” Kiryowa thundered as an evidently relieved Kawooya cheered “that exactly is what must happen.”
A clearly demolished Dr. Talemwa was further asked to reflect on the fact that Kaya wasn’t a poor man until the Covid restrictions came at the beginning of last year 2020. “This is a man who owned businesses but hasn’t earned any money for almost two years. We understand he owned Nana hostel which has been closed since March last year. The little cash he had, had to be expended on your hospital bills and the rest was confiscated to service loans he had like any other business. Why can’t you understand? The family will pay but they aren’t able to readily pay. Release the body and give them time to get buyers for any of his properties and then pay you,” one of the government officials at the meeting lectured Talemwa whose swag had by now been demobilized beyond recognition.
Indeed, to the relief of the bereaved family Tom Kaya’s body has since been released to the family immediately after the KK meeting and one of the things that clearly emerged out of the meeting was the helplessness of the regulatory Council whose membership is going to be reconstituted real soon because the unanimous realization at the KK/Kawooya meeting was that the frail old men currently running the show simply don’t measure up as they have no guts to stand up to powerful investors like Dr. Daniels Mitchell Talemwa.