HomeOpinion & AnalysisFeature: Of Karoi’s yet-to-be born maternity clinic

Feature: Of Karoi’s yet-to-be born maternity clinic

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BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
SEVEN years after the main structure for a 24-hour maternity clinic in Karoi was completed, donated goods which include a refrigerator, washing machine and delivery bedding among others for expecting mothers are gathering dust inside the facility.

The clinic in Karoi’s Chikangwe high-density suburb may actually never open its doors to expecting mothers. Why? It is at the centre of serious bungling and sleaze allegations.

The clinic is just one of many classic cases of how some local authorities are so lackadaisical in their approach to developmental issues that many a time donor and government funds end up being squandered recklessly.

Many years ago, the Chikangwe maternity wing received materials from Zimbabwe Network for Health (Zim-Health) an international humanitarian organisation based in Switzerland.

The Chikangwe maternity wing was meant to assist expecting mothers before referring them to Karoi District Hospital, which caters for 32 outlying clinics in Hurungwe district.

Zim-Health is a non-governmental, non-profit association, registered in Geneva and established by Zimbabweans living in Europe to mobilise financial, material and human resources to support health services back home.

‘‘Zim-Health continues to inform and engage interested individuals, stakeholders and partners about the success and needs of the public health system in Zimbabwe towards equitable and sustained healthcare for all Zimbabweans. It continues to support rehabilitation of primary, secondary and tertiary public health facilities by utilising in a partnership and team based, transparent and highly targeted project support system,’’ says the website.

The NGO has helped several other towns which include Kariba, Bindura, Gweru, Harare, Mutare, Marondera, Gwanda, Kadoma, Rusape and Kwekwe, among others that got maternity materials to help curb maternal deaths.

But in Karoi, the organisation’s donations are rotting due to the town council’s apparent apathetic attitude towards upscaling the town’s health delivery system and general development of the area.

In a shocking revelation, NewsDay understands that the clinic was actually built on top of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) main pipe.

‘‘Management pushed to have the wing built on top of Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) main pipe that they said would be diverted, but seven years down the line, nothing has been done yet. It is another challenge to divert the main water pipe and council has no better site for a health facility for its own residents who have a right to health,’’ revealed a junior officer speaking on condition that he is not named.

Other council sources revealed that the maternity clinic was actually condemned by both district and provincial health officials.

Further investigations by NewsDay pointed to the possibility that the maternity wing was probably being used as a conduit for financial pilfering.

‘‘Our major handicap is lack of accountability from the procurement department where top managers act as accounting officers who then approve projects and material purchases without proper checks and balances. Goods including window frames and doors at the clinic were substandard and had to be replaced several times,’’ charged a resident, Simon Mubika.

Incompetency

Ward 1 councillor Travolta Matekenya is on record arguing that the real problem in Karoi council was “lack of commitment and incompetency on management’s part”.

‘‘We have watched managers procuring (poor) materials for the council yet residents expect professionalism from them,’’ said Matekenya during a 2017 full council meeting.

For the past six months, councillors and management have been at loggerheads after two metal doors were installed at the front of the clinic, but were later removed and replaced.

‘‘As councillors, we have realised that management has proved to be retrogressive in terms of purchasing materials for the maternity wing. It is also old-fashioned to have sub-standard metal doors at a clinic and this works against our goal of achieving municipal status by 2025. Through our interventions, we had to replace the metal doors with glass doors last month,’’ said one councillor speaking on condition of anonymity.

Financial leaks

According to sources, council’s top managers are allegedly failing or deliberating not plugging financial leaks in the procurement department to facilitate the leakages.

‘‘Chikangwe maternity wing has been used as part of  financial leaks by the procurement team whereby sub-standard materials have been bought including roofing iron sheets that were blown off a day after carpenters had roofed the building. We raised the issue with management, but it was not taken seriously,’’ said one council worker.

And most interesting is that the Chikangwe maternity wing is just but one of the several white elephants that the local authority has failed to complete for the past 15 years.

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