HomeNewsChiwenga takes over as Health minister

Chiwenga takes over as Health minister

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BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

AILING Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was yesterday appointed the country’s Health minister following the expulsion of Obadiah Moyo two months ago over a US$60 million COVID-19 tender scandal.

The retired Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, who has no medical background and has been battling ill health since he led the ouster of the late former President Robert Mugabe in 2017, will join another career soldier Air Commodore Jasper Chimedza, who was appointed Health permanent secretary on Monday.

Deputy minister John Mangwiro is also a former soldier.

In a statement announcing Chiwenga’s appointment, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda said: “In making this decision, his Excellency the President has noted the urgent need to stabilise, restructure and reform the national health delivery system to better cope with challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and in the process, ensuring a
quick turnaround in national healthcare.”

Chiwenga’s appointment came a month after nurses at public hospitals downed tools demanding protective wear, United States dollar salaries, among others.

Doctors have also joined the industrial action, further crippling the public health sector long starved of drugs and other ancillary supplies.

In 2018, Chiwenga, who has made several medical trips to South Africa, India and China, fired thousands of nurses after they went on a similar industrial action claiming the strike was politically-motivated.

“We have authorised the health board to recall retired nursing staff into the service … Funds originally released to meet demands of the striking nursing staff will now be re-directed and allocated towards meeting the costs of effecting this new directive and arrangements which will be implemented with immediate effect,” Chiwenga said then, before government gave in and re-engaged the nurses.

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