The head of the Health Workers Union Bong County Chapter, Martha Morris, has accused Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, the Minister of Health, of exerting influence over health workers to vote for President George Weah in the upcoming runoff election on November 14th.
Morris, who is also the chairperson of the Unity Party (UP) campaign team, claims that the Minister has been using public funds to campaign for Weah’s re-election. She alleges that banners with Minister Jallah’s pictures printed on them have been displayed, leading health workers to feel pressured to support Weah.
When confronted by a stalwart of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Marvin Cole, while interacting with health workers at a facility in Gbarnga, Bong County, recently, Morris declared: “Our minister, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, is telling health workers to follow her. She called everybody to C.B. Dunbar Hospital and told them that the government has increased our salary, but it will begin in January 2024, and we are saying no to that.”
Morris believes that, as the president of the Health Workers Union, it is her duty to advocate for her fellow workers and that she should not be directing them on which way to vote. She also claims that health workers have been marginalized and underpaid under the current administration compared to the previous administration led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Minister Jallah denies the accusations and asserts that her campaign activities are separate from her role as Minister of Health. She maintains that she is a presidential appointee and has the right to campaign outside the ministry, though in violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and the Health Sector Personnel Guide.
The minister also stated that she has encouraged others not to use hospitals and clinics for campaigning.
The allegations made by Martha Morris follow concerns raised by local and international election monitoring groups, calling out the Weah administration for violating campaign finance laws—essentially, using state financial, material, and human resources to facilitate the campaign for the ruling party, the Coalition for Democratic Change.
Morris’ concerns regarding the potential influence exerted on health workers in their voting decisions highlight yet another dimension of potential campaign finance violations. It remains to be seen how these accusations will impact the upcoming runoff election and whether any actions will be taken to investigate the alleged misuse of public fiscal and other resources for campaigning.