IT is disheartening that it had to take the impassioned pleas of a Bulawayo Member of Parliament for the wheels of bureaucracy to move so that two critical institutions in the health sector in Matabeleland have some of their problems attended to. We refer here to the well documented challenges bedevilling the operations of the cancer unit at Mpilo Central Hospital and the inertia surrounding the opening of Ekusileni Specialist Hospital — a brainchild of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
Mpopoma-Pelandaba legislator Cde Joseph Tshuma was in his element in the august House last week where he took no prisoners in berating Government officials who stall projects for no good reason other than to have their palms greased by those intending to assist the State in providing a service to the nation.
A livid Cde Tshuma — one of the youthful MPs from the ruling Zanu-PF party — got emotional about the failure by bureaucrats to release money to purchase spare parts for the radiography machine in the cancer unit at Mpilo and urged Government to investigate reasons behind delays in opening Ekusileni.
He said there were companies willing to run Ekusileni, but there seemed to be elements bent on sabotaging Government efforts for their selfish reasons. “I would like this to be put on record that this Ekusileni matter must be investigated because I am told there are companies willing to open this hospital,” said Cde Tshuma.
“I approached Dr Nyasha Masuka who was appointed to head the Ekusileni committee. He actually showed me evidence saying that there are about nine international companies and three local guys who have put in their proposals and are willing to make sure that the hospital can be opened yesterday, but maybe because somebody somewhere wants a cut somewhere they are hindering that thing from opening. Is that right?”
Cde Tshuma said he was also disturbed by the failure by Treasury to avail $65 000 needed for the dysfunctional cancer unit at Mpilo Central Hospital. “I went to Mpilo and asked the CEO of the hospital what the problem was. He said they needed $65 000 and had been trying to speak to Treasury for them to release that money so that the company that repairs the machine can come from South Africa and do it. They will not come before they get this payment.
“Are you honestly telling me that we are failing to release $65 000 only so that the Mpilo Hospital Cancer Unit can start working again? We have got cancer patients in Bulawayo who are dying every day and we are just sitting on our laurels,” said Cde Tshuma, noting that such delays were sabotaging President Mugabe’s drive to address economic challenges.
Following his interventions, Government moved swiftly to address the two matters. We reported earlier this week that the Committee tasked to work towards the re-opening of Ekusileni Hospital has finally been given the green light to request for proposals from the nine shortlisted prospective investors.
Matabeleland North provincial director, Dr Nyasha Masuka, who chairs the committee said the Ministry of Health and Child Care communicated that the proposals would pave way for the adjudication process. In the same breadth, we reported yesterday that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has thrown Mpilo Central Hospital’s cancer unit a lifeline by providing the $63 000 required to fix its radiography machine.
Mpilo chief executive officer Mr Leonard Mabandi said they received foreign currency from the RBZ and they had already deposited the money into the bank account of a South African company that has been contracted to repair the machine. “The Reserve Bank has finally provided the $63 000 foreign currency that we desperately needed for the cancer unit. We have paid the company contracted to service the machines and we hope by next week they would have fixed the radiography machine,” said Mr Mabandi adding that he was positive that the machine would be up and running by the end of this month or early next month.
While we welcome the swift reaction of the Government to the two pressing matters, we feel it should not have taken the intervention of an MP for them to act. This clearly shows that there are Government officials who are sabotaging efforts to provide efficient service delivery and such bad apples have no place in the State bureaucracy. President Mugabe has called for zero tolerance to corruption and from these two cases, it is apparent that the scourge of graft is scuttling efforts to provide vital services such as health care to the nation.
Mpilo cancer patients have not been receiving treatment since June this year when the machine broke down and a paltry sum of $63 000 pales in comparison to the lives that would have been lost were the repairs not done. This is surely food for thought for money-hungry bureaucrats.