THE revelations that a loan of up to $6 million meant to revive Ekusileni Hospital has been lying idle because the National Social Security Authority’s partners have not been playing ball is disturbing.
Ekusileni was built by NSSA and the Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF) in 2000 at the behest of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.
It was immediately shut down after it was discovered that equipment sourced from the United States had expired.
Government officials, especially towards important elections, have taken turns to make promises that the specialist hospital would open anytime soon.
However, NSSA has finally come out in the open to explain the problems that have led to the inordinate delays.
Ekusileni was initially a joint venture between NSSA, the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust (ZHCT) led by Doubt Dube and MIPF, but is now wholly owned by NSSA after other shareholders failed to raise finance.
NSSA general manager James Matiza on Monday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service that Dube, who had promised to inject $12 million to resuscitate Ekusileni, has been failing to meet part of his bargain.
Dube had reportedly promised that a South African company Net Care was going to bring in new equipment, but it never happened.
Despite the failure by Dube to resume operations, NSSA is said to have put in a loan facility of $6 million to the ZHCT, but on condition that he shows that his group has capacity to raise the promised money.
Matiza also revealed that Dube owed Ekusileni $4,2 million in rentals and this raised the eyebrows of MPs who say the NSSA deals have to be scrutinised. The MPs were also told that a government delegation would be sent to Bulawayo in the next fortnight to investigate the goings-on at Ekusileni with the view of resuscitating the institution.
The information from NSSA would leave those that have been following the sad story of Ekusileni with a lot of questions such as: Why has the authority been sticking with Dube for so long when it has been clear that he has challenges getting the facility to work?
Shouldn’t NSSA have invited tenders from people with capacity to run the hospital a long time ago?
We can only hope that the government investigation would bring closure to this sad episode that epitomises the endemic half-hearted approach to problems facing Bulawayo.