Development Health

VP Chiwenga expected to resolve NatPharm Board debacle

Vice President and Minister of Health, Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga

Newly appointed Minister of Health and Child Care Retired General Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe is expected to put his hands on the deck as he restores sanity to the sector that has been dogged by a plethora of challenges.

VP Chiwenga comes in as the country is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, low morale among health workers at government clinics and hospitals, dysfunctional public health institutions including public hospitals and spiralling inflation among other challenges.

“General Chiwenga is a no-nonsense man who is committed to fighting corruption in government institutions. His coming in as the health minister comes as a relief because there are reports of rampant corruption at most health institutions. I am particularly hopeful that General Chiwenga will immediately resolve squabbles among board members and the management at NatPharm,” said political commentator based in the United Kingdom, Mr. Stanley Tavaziva.

The Dr. Billy Rigava led NatPharm board is comprised of specialists who include the chairman himself who is a medical doctor with vast experience in the medical field, a renowned lawyer, a procurement specialist, a banker and pharmacists just to name a few.

This board was sabotaged and recently dragged to Court over flimsy charges involving the termination of a former NatPharm managing director’s contract. It is believed that one of the senior managers whose contract was terminated on notice had a bone to chew against the board’s decision.

The fired manager is believed to have approached the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission under the guise of a whistle-blower and reported to the investigators that the board had not terminated the former NatPharm MD’s contract. It then turned out that the issue reported was before the hands of the Ministry of Health since 2018. Soon after appointment in July 2019, the current board became seized with the issue. Unknown to the whistleblower, at the time of manking the report, the board had already terminated the said contract of employment of the MD.

“To me this is a labour issue which is not supposed to be handled by ZACC. The coming in of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act in 2018 has affected most corporate entities that now need to align their day-to-day running to the new law.

“One such law is that under Section 17 Subsection 1 (b) it stipulates that “notwithstanding no other enactment, no person shall be appointed as chief executive officer of a public entity – (a)…(b) if he or she has already served as chief executive officer of the entity for one or more periods whether consecutive or not, amounting in the aggregate to 10 years,” said a Harare based advocate who requested anonymity.

This issue might also affect entities like ZESA, ZUPCO and TelOne among others. Administratively, ZACC officers should not have entertained the issue of the NatPharm board.

The current NatPharm board is reported to have vehemently condemned the failure by the NatPharm to follow laid down procurement procedures in a number of contracts including the much-publicised Drax corruption saga.

These are the matters that VP Chiwenga is expected to address as a matter of urgency when he takes office in the new portfolio given to him by the President. There are calls for him to strengthen the work of and partner efficient boards that believe in good corporate governance without entertaining undue pressure from some corrupt managers seeking to have people they can manipulate on the various boards.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende