PARLIAMENTARIANS yesterday raised alarm bells after it emerged a suspected dubious company involved in supermarket businesses had been awarded a $700 000 tender to refurbish buildings and supply medical equipment to to Mnene Mission Hospital in Mberengwa in Midlands province.
Hospital authorities and the winning tenderer, Food Miles, were yesterday summoned by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chaired by MDC-T legislator Ruth
Labode to explain how the tender was awarded after it emerged that the company had failed to complete the project since 2011.
However, the company’s director Ashdon Mpofu failed to turn up citing ill-health.
The committee was tipped off to investigate the scandal by Mberengwa North MP Tafanana Zhou (Zanu PF) who ,after touring hospitals in his constituency, noted that there was no progress at Mnene Mission Hospital despite receiving $700 000 from Treasury to refurbish its buildings and machinery.
Hospital executive officer Ziboniso Moyo and pastor-in-charge Luckson Magwizi were at pains yesterday to explain how the money was disbursed.
“A tender for $180 000 to refurbish the hospital building was awarded to Food Miles in 2011 after the hospital felt that the quotation from the Ministry of Public Works was too high and was going to wipe out all the $700 000 which we also wanted to use to buy hospital equipment,” Moyo said.
“The Food Miles quotation was $180 000 and they wanted initial payment of 60% ($100 000), which was paid in February 2012, but they have not been performing as expected. They have missed the deadline and they are doing work in bits and pieces,” he said.
Mberengwa district medical officer Nyachowe Chandiwana told the committee that Food Miles had in 2011 been awarded other tenders to provide X-ray equipment worth $180 000 and an X-ray processor worth $40 000, but only delivered the equipment last month.
Chandiwana added that both machines broke down after being used for one day, resulting in patients now being referred to Zvishavane, Gweru and Bulawayo for X-rays.
Chandiwana said the hospital also suffered water shortages due to breakdown of water processing equipment.
“I wrote to the provincial medical director informing him that I suspected the $700 000 was not being used well. The committee should visit the site to see for themselves the sub-standard work that was being done by Food Miles,” Chandiwana said.
The committee also discovered that prices for other gadgets such as computers and printers had been inflated.
“There is serious fraud and flouting of tender procedures here and we cannot talk to a supermarket manager when we are discussing issues of construction and hospital equipment. We want the owner of Food Miles himself. We will also invite Mpilo Central Hospital to speak about their role in this issue,” Labode said.