Ownership row over medical centre

HARARE - A row has erupted over the ownership of Ekusileni Medical Centre (EMC) in Bulawayo, a government official has said.

David Parirenyatwa, Health and Child Care minister, yesterday told a parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care that he was worried that the management and ownership structure at the health centre was unclear, a situation likely to perpetuate its closure.

Parirenyatwa said the ownership row comes at a time over 525 women in every 100 000 are dying of maternal illnesses every year.

The state-of-the-art institution was built using funds from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa). It is fast turning into a white elephant.

Committee chairperson Ruth Labode wanted to know the bona fide owners of the institution amid conflicting ownership claims by several groups including Nssa, some medical doctors and the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s family.  Parirenyatwa said his ministry was not sure who the real owners were.

Labode warned government to tread carefully, saying the Nkomo family had indicated that they own the land on which the medical facility was built.

“Persistent liquidity challenges and an unclear management structure at the hospital are confusing us. It worries me a lot when the Public Service ministry, Nssa and a group of doctors all claim ownership,” Parirenyatwa said.

James Matiza, the Nssa general manager, told legislators when he appeared before the same committee last month that they were now in full control of the hospital after allegedly purchasing the land to which they now have title deeds.

Matiza said the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust and Mining Industry Pension Fund, who were supposed to partner them, failed to pay for their 28,8  and 15,2 percent shares respectively.

Matiza complained that Doubt Dube, who represents Zimbabwe Health Care Trust’s interests in the deal, wanted to continue with the joint venture although they did not buy any shares.

He claimed he owned the land on which the hospital was built and had refused to hand over keys to the institution on the basis  that the facility was housing his equipment  —  bought for use by the institution but discarded after being deemed obsolete by the Health ministry.

Parirenyatwa said he was concerned that the hospital, which was supposed to be a state-of-the-art private health care centre for the Bulawayo community, had continued to lie idle since 2000.

He said his ministry had proposed that the centre be transformed into a specialist hospital as the Bulawayo community was already being taken care of by several health care centres including Mpilo and others which are within a 6km radius of each other.

He said in terms of its ownership, the hospital should remain in the hands of the Public Service ministry since its was funded with funds from Nssa.

“We have argued that United Bulawayo, Mpilo, Mater Dei are within a 6km radius and providing the same services and we therefore strongly recommend that it becomes a specialist centre in cancer or other areas of specialisation,” Parirenyatwa said.

He said government remained committed to making health care accessible to all by scrapping maternity user fees.

Nkomo came up with the idea of the hospital after he was flown to South Africa and Egypt — because of lack of specialised treatment facilities at home as he battled ill health.


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