Professor Solwayo Ngwenya has reportedly been overlooked for the Mpilo Central Hospital substantive chief executive officer job with the former United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH) acting chief executive officer Dr Narcisius Dzvanga set to take over.
Prof Ngwenya was the clinical director at the government hospital before being elevated to the position of acting CEO about two years ago following the removal of the then-CEO Leonard Mabhandi.
This came after the government had sacked all substantive CEOs at its public hospitals and the Health Services Board (HSB) moved quickly to conduct interviews to identify their replacements.
According to sources close to the proceedings who could not reveal their names for fear of retaliation, Prof Ngwenya applied for the Mpilo CEO post while Dr Dzvanga applied for the UBH CEO post.
“Dr Dzvanga applied to head UBH while Prof Ngwenya applied for the CEO position at Mpilo. Two years later, the Mpilo position went to Dzvanga when he had not even applied for it,” alleged the sources.
The new hospital CEOs are Dr Christopher Pasi – Sally Mugabe Hospital, Dr Narcisius Dzvanga (Mpilo Central Hospital), Dr William Busumani – (United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Dr Michael Chiwanga – Chitungwiza Hospital, Dr Nemache Mawere – Ingutsheni Hospital and Dr Celestine Dhege as the Provincial Medical Director for Mashonaland West.
When contacted for comment, Prof Ngwenya stated he had not received any official communication regarding the position.
“We are seeing them on social media and doctors’ groups people excitedly congratulating each other. Some say they are taking over,” he said, emphasizing he was still the acting CEO, as he had been for the past two years.
“Officially nothing has been communicated but the appointed people are sending messages when they are starting work.”
On the other hand, Dr Dzvanga said he would be starting at his new job “anytime from now” and that “the appointments were very much official”.
However, Matabeleland activists have reacted angrily to the latest appointments accusing the government of politicizing the appointments.
They said that Prof Ngwenya’s ‘exclusion’ was unjustified because he is “one of the most highly qualified specialist doctors in Zimbabwe, and arguably the best in Matabeleland.”
Last year, Prof Ngwenya graduated with his fourth degree, a PhD in Statistics at NUST.
His first degree was in Medicine in 1997.
He also has achieved Membership in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists plus a Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists both in London.
Activists noted that when Prof Ngwenya was in charge, the hospital’s death rate declined due to accountability measures that he put in place.
“I think Solwayo is paying for his sins for exposing corruption of Mabhandi (former Mpilo and Ingutsheni CEO who was fired in a restructuring exercise in 2020). Passing him over is a continuation of ethnic hegemony against the people of this region,” said Patrick Ndlovu, an analyst.
“Mabhandi had been transferred from Chitungwiza by the ministry on allegations of corruption together with his cousin (former health minister) Obadiah Moyo (who was fired for corruption). Both Mabhandi and Moyo came from Mberengwa that is why Mpilo’s payroll was populated by people from Mberengwa. I believe Solwayo was part of the people who exposed them leading to Mabhandi’s dismissal.”
Ndlovu said overlooking Prof Ngwenya was his “payback.”
“We are not surprised by that, at least it will not soil his CV of being in charge of an institution that is run down deliberately. He, however, should have at least learnt from the experience that he cannot feed a snake, if you feed a snake, it will turn around and bite you,” said the activist.
Another activist, Effie Ncube, said this was yet another example of the government ignoring competent people in order to further its own interests.
“It’s very sad for us in most cases that what we are seeing is the government ignoring competent professional people and instead choosing activists to be CEOs of hospitals and other parastatals. This does not mean that each and every person who is appointed is a Zanu activist or incompetent, but by and large more of the people are incompetent and this is why the state of institutions we are talking about are in disrepair,” he said.
Ncube said Prof Ngwenya had been acting in the CEO position and was competently discharging his functions.
“There is absolutely zero sense that when it comes to appointing a substantive CEO, and we understand that he is applied, he is then overlooked. The only conclusion would be they made political considerations, looking for party activists and Zanu PF members instead of professionals qualified to do the job.”
Secretary General of a pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, Mbuso Fuzwayo concurred it was unfortunate and unjustified to overlook Prof Ngwenya for the job.
“It is a clear sign of a people who don’t want to build a nation, a people who are working tirelessly and daily to suppress a certain region by importing people from outside. Honestly speaking, there is no justification in not appointing Solwayo who is a professor and did well in educating people during Covid-19,” he said.
“There are a lot of things that Solwayo did but to overlook him and bring in somebody who did not even apply to be the CEO of Mpilo, shows there’s no justification.”
Fuzwayo insisted this was a sign that a tribal narrative was being pushed.
“Someone is pushing a tribal narrative to promote people from Mashonaland at the expense of competent people. They will always be hiding around issues of competence but I challenge them to tell us what it is that Solwayo did not have, that failed him to occupy that position,” he said.