MPs yesterday condemned the astronomical charges Bulawayo’s government hospitals are paying to CMED (Pvt) Ltd to hire luxury vehicles for their chief executive officers.
The Parliamentary Portfolio on Health and Child Care has been told during tours of Mpilo, Ingutsheni and the United Bulawayo Central Hospitals this week that the government is paying at least $6 000 to hire a Mercedez-Benz for each CEO.
Southern Eye first exposed the rot last week prompting an outcry from city residents often subjected to poor treatment at the hospitals.
The committee, led by Matabeleland North MP Ruth Labode (MDC-T), was told that the CEOs get between $100 and $500 in cellphone allowances a month. Yesterday the committee visited Mpilo and UBH after touring Ingutsheni on Tuesday.
Labode said there was need for the government to put a cap on cellphone allowances and arrange with local vehicle traders to buy vehicles for the CEOs.
“There is this issue of cars, we know that CEOs are entitled to cars, my concern is that you then go and hire a car from CMED at a cost of $6 900,” she said. “I believe the Finance ministry should authorise these central hospitals since they can afford to pay $6 900 to go to private companies and buy the appropriate car and pay for it because $6 900 in a year is more than $80 000.
“A Ford Everest is $40 000, even a Prado is less than that. You could buy these cars using the existing resources.
“It is misplaced priorities and I wonder why the ministry has allowed this thing to go on especially considering the amounts involved.
“I thought during my time, cars we got from CMED were not paid for, but times have changed. Everybody is trying to survive somehow.
“As a ministry we should actually like tomorrow make a decision that let us buy cars. Let us approach an organisation with a guarantee from the government, a lot of car dealers will allow us to buy brand new cars.”
Labode also raised concerns about the use of phones.
“The issue of phones, I think $600 is a bit too much. I do not know where you will be phoning when you also have the land line and a secretary that you phone to the tune of $600. I think a cap needs to be put,” she said.
“You won’t blame the CEOs. I think the whole thing has been left loose for people to make decisions, to use it. For example if the CEO used $10 000 on the phone, there is nothing you can do because there is no law that says you should use $400.”
Labode added: “We need to tighten our screws. We have reached a time in Zimbabwe where we are poor and it’s time we acknowledge that. We must transfer the same way we manage our resources at home to the public institutions.”
Mpilo CEO Lawrence Mantiziba told the MPs the heads of hospitals had to be remunerated fairly for them to be motivated to do their work. He said if they were paid like civil servants, there would be low morale that would lead to dereliction of duty and the rise of corrupt activities.