Chiwenga health ministerial job already cut out

  • Minister expected to resolve NatPharm management and board crisis

THE health situation in Zimbabwe is currently dire, with so much happening in the supply chain of medicine, including the issue of striking medical staffers.

Needless to say, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga therefore has to hit the ground running.

As the new Health minister, Chiwenga’s first port of call is the restoration of sanity at the National Pharmacy (NatPharm) which has recently been a victim to corporate governance crisis.

NatPharm is currently in a quandary, with the Board accusing management of undermining its role.

The management had outgrown its mandate, with previous minister, Obadiah Moyo, on numerous occasions tacitly allowing them to ignore the board’s recommendations.

In April last year, the entire board resigned over the decision by Moyo to reverse NatPharm’s decision not to renew managing director Nancy Sifeku’s contract after she had reached retirement age.

When a new Board was appointed, the management could not accept it.

The management continued to negotiate their contracts with Moyo, in the process bypassing the new Board.

Tender negotiations were now being reportedly being done between the Health minister and management instead of the NatPharm Board.

The new Board is then allegedlly wrote to the minister twice, communicating their decision to fire the general manager, Sifeku.

The minister, however, did not accept the management’s decision.

Zim Morning Post understands that the minister’s decision was made irrespective of the fact that the NatPharm general manager was working without a contract.

Chiwenga’s first port of call should be to deal with the management issue, which is believed to hate the processes of accountability and transparency.

Although the Board’s duty is to play an oversight role in pushing for accountability and transparency, its role in NatPharm has been reduced to that of signing contracts that would have been negotiated by the management.

NatPharm insiders say tenders are negotiated between management and the contractor, with the Board only asked to sign the contracts.

To fight the Board’s oversight role, the management has since called for the dismissal of of the entire Board.

It is also believed that in the eight months they operated without a Board, shelf companies were created to supply medicines at inflated prices, in the process hurting the national purse.