A NUMBER of senior officials at Mnene Hospital in Mberengwa face dismissal and arrest after they were accused of misappropriating government funds at the institution, a scandal that has taken in Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda.
According to minutes of a team investigating corruption at the hospital, tenders were awarded to Banda, Comfort Shumba and Ashton Mpofu without going to tender.
Officials at the hospital say they did not receive bribes or gifts from the three, although questions lingered on why they had been awarded tenders without following laid down procedures.
“(Procurement manager) Richard Dharara and (project manager) Wilbert Madenga from (Health ministry) head office, conspired with (chief executive officer) Noel Moyo from Mnene Hospital to produce authorities for riding on Chitsungo Mission, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Gwanda and Masvingo tenders, which were said to have been awarded to companies belonging to Ashton Mpofu and Gift Banda,” the minutes read.
Asked on his relationship with Banda, Moyo said he only knew that he lived in Bulawayo and they had communicated a number of times.
“I only know that Banda stays in Bulawayo and have communicated with him several times and this was purely on business issues for example non-functionality of our machines, albeit it yielded nothing,” Moyo is quoted as saying.
When contacted for comment, Banda said he was not involved in Mnene Hospital issues.
“I do not know how I am involved in the Mnene Hospital scandal,” he said.
“You should first ask the responsible people if I am involved and concentrate on those who are accused of corruption.”
Mnene Hospital, the biggest referral hospital in the district, servicing 35 clinics and four rural hospitals, received about $ 700 000 from the Government in 2011 under the targeted approach programme, a special fund crafted to revive the health sector.
The institution run by Evangelical Lutheran Church has allegedly failed to account for the money after flouting tender regulations, as well as inflating prices of some of the equipment procured under the programme.
Documents seen by Southern Eye, show that members of the management committee facing arrest include the district medical officer, a Dr Nyachowe accused of failing to provide an oversight role in the implementation of the targeted approach programme and deliberately and negligently leaving the project to fail.
Other officials include Dharara, Madenga and junior matron, Dzingai Chauke, who are accused of conspiring with Moyo in procuring equipment.
“Moyo deliberately received a cheaper floor-mounted x-ray machine instead of the paid for ceiling mounted X-ray machine and all the equipment and mattresses which were bought did not show value for money since they were exaggeratedly priced,” minutes of the investigating team, led by former Deputy Health minister, Paul Chimedza, read.
The investigating team said an advance of $100 000 was made to a non-reputable company called Food Miles (Pvt) Ltd.
“Two and half years after the expiry of the contract works period, Food Miles (Pvt) Ltd has only managed to do renovations worth $57 895 against the $100 000 advanced, giving a possible prejudice of $42 105,” the minutes read.
“Dharara fraudently used the permanent secretary’s date stamp to authorise awarding [a] tender worth $180 000 against the on-going limit of $50 000.”
It was recommended that the management committee be immediately relieved of their duties to pave way for further investigations.