The government is at pains to explain how Sports Minister Ulemu Msungama, who left the country two weeks ago for India to seek medical assistance on a leg problem, ended up with a head bandage.
Pictures of the minister in head bandage— purportedly in India—went viral on social media, with government officials, both on and off record, confirming that the minister left the country on government ticket to seek medical attention on his leg injury.
For the minister to leave the country for medical reasons, he had to, among other processes, seek permission from Office of the President and Cabinet to facilitate the travel necessities including footing the bills. He also had to inform his line ministry top officials and those from the Ministry of Health.
The unconfirmed social media reports allege that the minister’s head bandages mean that he had undergone a hair transplant— purportedly on government’s ticket—an allegation no government official has so far confirmed.
In September 2020, the country had about 300 patients on the waiting list to be referred abroad for treatment for cancer, eye conditions and kidney failure and the government requested K1.5 billion for referrals.
In an interview with The Daily Times, several government officials from ministries of Health and Sports confirmed that Msungama left the country to seek treatment for a leg problem.
However, video pictures went viral on social media showing the minister’s head wrapped in some bandages.
Efforts to talk to the minister in India proved futile as his phone could not be reached and WhatsApp messages could not go through.
Principal Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo confirmed that the minister left the country to seek medical help.
He, however, said, as a third party, he could not disclose the nature of the ailment.
“[What] I can confirm is that he is, indeed, in India for treatment. For the diagnosis, it is not up to a third party to disclose,” Mwansambo said.
He, however, said the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) was in a position to know about how the minister’s bill would be footed since the office handles the medical aid scheme for ministers and their deputies.
Efforts to talk to OPC proved futile, as both Secretary to the OPC Zanga-zanga Chikhosi and his deputy Janet Banda could not pick the phone or the phone was out of reach.
PS for Ministry of Sport Oliver Kumbambe referred our reporter to the ministry’s spokesperson Simon Mbvundula, who refused to comment, saying he was on leave.
Mbvundula further referred The Daily Times to Msungama’s personal assistant Ali Kalichero, who said the minister had not mandated him to speak on the issue.
One of the sources close to the minister disclosed that the minister picked a knock on his knee when he was playing social football and that it has been giving him problems since.
“We all know the minister has been having problems with his leg for three months now. He was playing for Parliament social football team when he picked the injury and he has been in pain.
“It was not surprising when we heard that he is India to seek medical help. However sometimes a person can go for one problem and be helped. While there, you can also seek help for another problem. I am not saying this is what happened,” said the source.