THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care yesterday rapped the Ministry of Finance for by-passing the Health ministry and directly allocating funds to church-run hospitals.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Committee chairperson Ruth Labode said some officials at mission-run hospitals had taken advantage of the discrepancy to abuse the funds. This came out when Zimbabwe Association of Church related Hospitals (ZACH) executive director Vuyelwa Sidile-Chitimbire appeared before the committee and was grilled over misuse of $700 000 by officials at Mnene Mission Hospital in Mberengwa, Midlands.
Sidile-Chitimbire said even if they were a non-governmental organisation whose mandate was to monitor church-run hospitals, they had no mandate to audit amounts donated by donors or the government to these hospitals.
”Our mandate as ZACH is that we have a constitution and we cannot go outside that constitution. Mission hospitals have their own constitutions and processes and we cannot just go and audit their finances because it is not part of our mandate,” he said.
The committee said the Mnene Hospital issue could just be a tip of the iceberg with a possibility that several other mission hospitals might be abusing money they received from donors and Treasury as there were no systems to ensure the funds were accounted for.
”The Ministry of Finance has to appear before this committee to answer questions over why they sidelined the Health and Child Care ministry and dished out money to mission hospitals without the parent ministry knowing,” Labode said.
“How did the Ministry of Finance come up with the list of hospitals that should be given the money, and on what grounds?
“We need to know if the Ministry of Health and Child Care has actually gone to the Ministry of Finance to follow up on how the hospitals they allocated funds accounted for the money — because as things stand now, the motive of sidelining the Health and Child Care ministry could have been corruption.”
In the 2015 budget, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated $1 million to eight mission hospitals — Chidamoyo, Kana, Karanda , Kariyangwe, Matibi, Mount Mellary, Mtshabezi, and Nyadire. Each was allocated $125 000.