TITANIC-Battle of VP, Minster sink deeper

By James Atem Kuir

The ongoing administrative row- between the Vice President for Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi and the Minister of Health, Elizabeth Achuei Yolhas hit yet another deeper stage as the latter nullified the Minister’s order prohibiting reshufflingof directors in the health ministry.

VP Abdelbagi who controls the Service Cluster Delivery which comprises of the Ministry of Health among others, recently ordered Dr. Anib Majur the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health to initiate changes in the management of Juba Teaching Hospital (JTH) to salvage it from collapsing after suffering paralyzed services due to persistent strike by staff demanding arrears.

Dr. Anib swiftly obeyed and sacked and reassigned seven director-generals and directors including those heading the broken Juba Teaching Hospital.

But Minister Achuei – whose blessings was not sought during the process -canceled all changes commissioned by her junior officer in what appeared to be a retaliatory response to the exclusion decision taken by the undersecretary.

However, in the latest escalation of the standoff, Vice President Abdelbagi, in a strong-worded letter dated October 17, 2021, warned Achuei against “blockin greforms’ and accused her of ‘gross negligence of duties, which could have caused the country’ saying the minister had recently left the country without someone acting in her place.

“I am writing this directives in response to Ministerial order no. 22/2021 dated 15th October, 2021 in regards to the cancelation of the reforms initiated in the ministry of health through the undersecretary during your absence.

“First, you left the country without delegating anyone in the cluster to run the affairs of the Ministry of Health in your absentia. This is tantamount to gross negligence of duties, which could have cost the country. Further, this vacuum was fully assumed by the Undersecretary of Ministry of Health with my consent,” read in part copy ofthe letter obtained Juba Monitor.

“Secondly, the reforms made by the Undersecretary were conducted in consultation with my office. They were meant to address the persistent crisis in the Ministry of Health and particularly at Juba Teaching,” he wrote in the letter.

The VP went on to remind the minister of the provisions in the 2018 agreement which mandated him to initiate institutional reforms, and further warned her against overturning of the changes made by the undersecretary until the presidency deliberate on the matter.

“Thirdly, I hereby remind you of R-ARCSS section 1.9.4, subsection which mandated the Vice President to initiate institutional reforms. Thus, the reforms made by the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health are consistent with the above provisions,” he said.

The articles above gives powers, functions and responsibilities to the President, the First Vice President, or any of the Vice Presidents to initiate institutional reforms.

“In view of that, the Ministerial Order is invalid and reforms made by the Undersecretary supersedes the order,” he said. “Finally, these reforms shall not be overturned until the Presidency deliberate on the matter,” the Vice President declared.

Meanwhile, the South Sudan Doctors Union (SSDU) has expressed dismay at the deepening row between the Vice President and Minister of Health saying it has deepened “hopeless among workers in the ministry.”

“… The SSDU is worried about the image and the direction of the Ministry of Health and is deeply concerned about the (deteriorating) level of cooperation and coordination among the Ministry of Health leadership,” the union said in a statement obtained Juba Monitor yesterday.

“We call upon the leaders of the two institutions to desist from escalating the matter and treat it as an internal affair that should be resolved in closed-door meetings,” the doctors appealed.

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