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Chiwenga fumes after UBH renames hospital unit after Tagwirei's Arundel

by Staff reporter
15 May 2021 at 08:38hrs | Views
Vice President and health minister Constantino Chiwenga was furious after discovering that the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) had renamed its Covid-19 isolation centre to Arundel Hospital, ZimLive can reveal.

The isolation centre at the Bartley Memorial Block, and the Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital which was built from the ashes of the fire-destroyed Robbie Gibson Hospital, were "officially opened" by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday.

The official opening was delayed, however, after Chiwenga, who arrived at the hospital ahead of Mnangagwa discovered that Bartley Memorial Block signage had been covered over with "Arundel Hospital" banners.

"He was quite furious and told them to remove Arundel Hospital signage. He said it was a public hospital and wondered why it was carrying the name of a private institution in Harare," a source said.

Arundel Hospital is owned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ally and millionaire financier Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who is on United States sanctions for "materially assisting senior Zimbabwean government officials involved in public corruption."

Tagwirei, through his company Sakunda, took over the Arundel Clinic in Harare last year and converted it to an isolation centre for Covid-19 after allegedly spending over US$3 million revamping the facility and acquiring equipment.

The facility has hosted senior government officials who got sick from the virus, doing little to allay public concerns that it was a hospital for the elite in politics, the military and business while ordinary Zimbabweans are referred to poorly equipped council and government hospitals.

Bulawayo residents were alarmed to see the Arundel Hospital signs going up, fearing that part of the UBH was being privatised. While Chiwenga shared their concerns, his fury also appeared to betray a growing rivalry with Mnangagwa and the vice president's apparent disdain for Tagwirei – a former ally who switched sides when Chiwenga became gravely ill and was treated for six months in China in 2019.

With reporters watching, hospital officials scrambled to remove a sign which read ‘UBH ARUNDEL HOSPITAL EXTENSION' which had been imposed on top of the building's original name of Bartley Memorial Block. There was, however, little time to pull down another sign which was put at the top of the double storey building.

As if that was not enough, some officials believed to be from the President's Office took hospital management to task over the official opening plaques which referred to "Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa". The officials were demanding that the plaques – one at Bartley Memorial and the other at the Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital – should have carried the title of "Cde Dr Emmerson Mnangagwa."

UBH CEO Dr Narcacius Dzvanga told ZimLive that people were "bickering about the name and completely ignoring their (Sakunda's) effort." He insisted that putting up Arundel Hospital signs was their way of expressing gratitude after Sakunda fully equipped the isolation centre and hired staff "from groundsman, cleaner to doctors."

Dr Dzvanga sought to draw comparisons between the Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital, which has signage outside reading ‘Cure Children's Hospital of Zimbabwe'. The official name as reflected in the plaque, Dr Dzvanga said, was Bulawayo Orthopaedic Hospital.

The children's hospital was built by the Zimbabwe Orthopaedic Trust, whereas Sakunda's Arundel Hospital took over an existing building.

"There was so much furore yet the contracts are so clear," Dr Dzvanga said as he revealed that the United Kingdom-funded Trust running the free children's hospital had been granted a 30-year lease following which the facility would be handed over to UBH.

He said Arundel Hospital had been granted a one-year lease, and insisted that "people will be treated for free." He said Sakunda had indicated it would open discussions for a longer lease.

Said Dr Dzvanga: "We have a situation here where one hospital is built by the British called Cure. No-one is raising dust about the orthopaedic hospital and yet there are a million questions about Arundel, which is doing the same. They're both philanthropists. There's no way we can call it UBH when they're equipping facilities. People want their world-class facilities but don't want them mentioned.

"The difference is that one is white, the other is black. The British one is straightforward, and this other one is suspicious. I ‘m on the ground. I have seen what they (Sakunda) have done, they're sincere. Someone just sees evil, you can't understand."

Dr Dzvanga refused to discuss the content of his conversations with Chiwenga and the President's Office, insisting: "When things go political, common-sense and politics are sometimes not on the same wavelength."

Source - zimlive
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