SECURITY guards at Harare Central Hospital yesterday thwarted a potentially explosive demonstration by nursing staff, who briefly picketed their chief executive officer, Peggy Zvavamwe’s office to protest the alleged freeze on all drugs and sundry purchases to raise $88 359 for her official vehicle.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
The striking workers later dispersed after hospital security staff threatened to arrest them.
Zvavamwe confirmed the skirmishes which she said occurred shortly before she reported for duty in the morning.
She, however, claimed that the vehicle in question, a Jeep Cherokee, was purchased above board.
“I just heard there were people playing drums, but when I came in, there was no demonstration. I really cannot tell what motivated the demonstration. If it is about the car, that is unfortunate as that was done above board,” she said.
“The authorisation for the purchase came from a higher office in April, not even the (Health) ministry. And everyone knows that. It was an authorisation for all central hospitals. In fact, we are the only one that had not yet bought ours, as all the other central hospitals bought theirs a long time ago. I was just as surprised as everyone else.”
Zvavamwe refuted claims that the hospital was operating without basics and said all operations were running smoothly.
“The basics of a central hospital and those of a clinic are different. Our basic duties are going on. If it is shortages, some of our sister hospitals are also facing shortages. Some now even have private pharmacies housed in the hospitals, which is just an acceptance that things are bad,” she said.
“These are just allegations, but everything was done above board. We actually chose a cheaper car compared to others. It is not up to me to say how, but all central hospitals bought their own cars.”
Zvavamwe said even their procurement board had communicated to them that they were only prioritising medicines and the kitchen, as it was impossible to treat hungry patients.
Zvavamwe, however, declined to name the person who authorised the acquisition of her vehicle.
“It came from above. They are supposed to buy these vehicles, but, then because of competing demands, we were authorised to buy the vehicles. After all, the revenue that we collect goes to Treasury,” she said.