Health perm sec Chimedza appointment receives backlash

THE legality of the appointment of Air Commodore Jasper Chimedza as Secretary for Health and Child Care on Monday is under scrutiny, with some sections arguing that it was in violation of Section 5 of the Public Health Act, Zim Morning Post can report.

The most vocal critic was MDC Alliance spokesperson and lawyer Fadzayi Mahere, who registered her disgruntlement on micro-blogging site Twitter.

“The appointee does not have a qualification in public health which is a peremptory legal requirement under s5(3)(a)(ii) of the Public Health Act.” read her tweet.

She went on to cite sub-clauses that further discredit Chimedza’s appointment at law.

Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda announced Chimedza’s appointment in a communique issued Monday.

According to the communique,  Chimedza is a qualified medical doctor, obtaining his MB ChB degrees at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) before being attested into the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) in January 1996.

On completion of Basic Officers’ Military Course at Buffalo Range in Chiredzi, he was promoted to flight lieutenant and posted to Thornhill Air Force Base as medical officer. In 1998 he was promoted to squadron leader and posted to Manyame Air Force Base as senior medical officer.

Thereafter, he was appointed Director Medical Services at Air Force Headquarters with further promotion to wing commander and since 2010; he has been holding the rank of air commodore.

President Mnangagwa has the constitutional power to appoint permanent secretaries but some legal experts submitted that there should be an advert to choose the candidate that is fit and proper to hold public office.

“Well, there should be amendments to this piece of legislation because we end up having people who are not fit and proper to run certain government ministries.”

“These posts should be advertised so that the very best candidate is appointed. A person with a broader range of medical experiences would have been suitable,” said an expert only identified as Mutunda.

Some critics said the appointment of the top soldier was symptomatic of a deliberate ploy to militarize government.

“Chimedza’s appointment shows that there is a process of militarization of government. Several top soldiers have been appointed to strategic positions in government and the motive is telling,” said a political commentator who preferred anonymity.  

This assertion however do not hold water basing on the fact that  outgoing secretary Agnes Mahomva’s predecessor Gerald Gwinji was a military personnel.

Gwinji was a retired Brigadier General and has been secretary for a decade before his unceremonious sacking in 2019.

Meanwhile, Chimedza faces a Herculean task as the country is seized with the coronavirus pandemic and a health delivery system that is in ‘comatose’.

As the most powerful civil servant in the Health ministry, he is expected to lease with the minister and map turn around strategies in the health delivery system.