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Chiwenga's nursing school shut down

by Staff reporter
20 May 2024 at 07:55hrs | Views
The government has shut down a nursing school established by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga in Chikomba district, Mashonaland East province, due to disruptions from Zanu-PF factional conflicts.

The nursing school in Chivhu, opened in 2021 when Chiwenga also served as Health and Child Care minister, was the brainchild of John Mangwiro, Chiwenga's then deputy and Chikomba West legislator. It was viewed largely as a campaign strategy for Mangwiro, who eventually lost his seat to Tatenda Mavetera during Zanu-PF primaries early last year. Mavetera, an ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, won the seat in the disputed August 2023 elections and currently serves as Information Communication Technology, Postal, and Courier Services minister.

Sources revealed that rival factions within Zanu-PF, aligned with Chiwenga and Mnangagwa, were battling to control enrolment at the nursing school. This internal strife led to the enrolment of over 150 students, far exceeding the school's capacity of 10, resulting in overcrowding and compromised standards set by the Nursing Council of Zimbabwe (NCZ).

The government recently ordered the school's closure after determining its operations were substandard. Health and Child Care deputy minister Sleiman Timios Kwidini confirmed that the enrolled students have been transferred to other institutions.

"It's not being shut down as such. The problem was that the school was now congested, and the students were no longer learning properly," Kwidini told NewsDay. "It needs to be upgraded to have better capacity for training. We want to expand and open more schools, and Chivhu is one of them. For now, it can't accommodate 10 pupils."

Kwidini explained that the school had been "temporarily" closed to regularize its operations. "In preparation for a proper structure, the enrolled students have been transferred, some to Marondera and other schools," he said. "We want it to be a bigger school in line with the President's vision for 2030."

A Health ministry report following a verification visit indicated the school was unlawfully established and raised concerns about over-enrolment. "The school was approved for training 10 Registered General Nurses (RGNs) subject to fulfilling NCZ requirements," part of the report read. "However, from the tutor-in-charge, the school has been functioning since June 7, 2021, training in accident and emergency without a Statutory Instrument - the Training Regulations and approval of NCZ."

Mangwiro refused to comment, saying, "I am no longer in government. If it was shut down, then so be it. I don't have a say." Mavetera was unavailable for comment.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a director in the Health ministry was under scrutiny for approving the nursing school's establishment without necessary requirements. "There is currently an inquiry as to why the ministry approved the nursing school when it did not have the necessary requirements, and the director (name supplied) is currently under fire over that," the official told NewsDay. "The last time he was summoned for questioning over the issue, he argued that the former Health minister (Chiwenga) approved it, and he acted on his orders."

Source - newsday