Health Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo says the government is still carrying out due diligence before announcing the new investor to run Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo amid reports an Indian investor had been identified to run the health facility.
The 260-bed hospital, a brainchild of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, has been lying derelict since 2001 after it was shut down shortly after opening its doors.
Ekusileni was closed after it was discovered that equipment worth millions of dollars acquired by the Zimbabwean Health Care Trust (ZCHT), after renting the institution from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), was obsolete.
According to reports from the state media an Indian investor, Sharda Group of Institutions (SGI), was handpicked to run the upmarket health facility and has even started advertising recruiting medical staff.
Speaking on the sidelines of a tour of the facility, Thursday, the health minister was non-committal on when the hospital will be opened.
“We are carrying out due diligence once that that is finalised we will be able to announce the opening date. This is where we are now, we want it opened as soon as possible so it is the issue of due diligence and we are working out the MOU agreements and so on.
“Otherwise, there was tender flight and there were responses that is what is being finalised,” he noted.
Dr Moyo said cabinet was happy with the progress and is working flat out to ensure the facility is up and running.
“Where we came from is longer than where we are going to the solution is there, it just has to be finalised.
“We want you to realise that cabinet is taking this seriously, it might appear as if there’s been nothing happening but it’s the issues of due diligence. At the end of the day we will come out with the most appropriate investor,” the minister noted.
He highlighted the government was looking for investors and some had shown an interest in this particular entity.
“Let’s just give it short more period, we shall come and celebrate. We want to celebrate the official opening by the highest powers in the nation considering it was in honour of a great hero, the Father of Zimbabwe (the late Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo). It is appreciated and I myself have taken this as a challenge to be able to make sure Ekusileni is opened and works to help the population of Zimbabwe,” Dr Moyo said.
Also present at the Ekusileni tour was National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Board Chairman, Dr Cuthbert Chidoori, who expressed optimism that the specialist centre would open soon after seeing movement.
“We are barely two months old on the job, as this is prestigious building that as social security we provide. We are happy there is some movement, cars are parked outside, people are moving and something is happening, which shows something bigger yet to happen. The history for this building stretches for many years,” he said.
Dr Chidoori said NSSA was just the owner of the building and looked forward to facilitating whatever was necessary for Ekusileni to function.
“This is a facility at a prime location for state of the art hospital, we hope going forward this indeed will be of benefit to the nation, benefit the people around Bulawayo and Matabeleland,” said the board chair.
Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director, Dr Pugie Chimberengwa, tasked with overseeing the logistical operations of Ekusileni Hospital said the prospective investor wanted to work on the centre in three phases.
“Ekusileni has a bed capacity of 260 beds and for every 10 beds, there must be one ICU bed. Currently, they are very few ICU beds as they seven.
“According to the prospective investor, this facility is too small as the theatres are six and would have wanted a minimum of two specialised theatres in unity so operations cannot be interrupted.
“The other issues are there is no mortuary, a blood bank and an incinerator, which would be outsourced. The investor is not interested in running the kitchen as well,” he said