VP Chiwenga’s Ministry rocked by salaries scam. Monthly salaries for a medical deputy director ranges between ZW$12 000 and ZW$13 000 while a non-medical deputy director earns ZW$7 000. Both medical and non-medical deputy directors receive 20 litres of fuel every week.
“Please be advised that the Ministry of Health and Child Care is undertaking a restructuring exercise aimed at refocussing its operations in order to achieve greater efficiency as envisaged in the National Health Strategy. Your function has been identified as one that needs realignment,” a letter to one of the affected directors sent on paid leave seen by this newspaper reads.
“This letter serves to inform you that effective July 10, you are hereby put on indefinite leave to facilitate the restructuring exercise. You will not be required to report for duty unless called back to office.”
The letter, undersigned by HSB executive chairman Paulinas Sikosana was dated July 10. Staffers assigned to assume the positions of the 27 directors and deputy directors among other public health workers sent on paid leave in an acting capacity have since been accommodated at a three-star hotel (name supplied) in the capital since July.
A suite at the luxurious hotel costs US$200 per night or the equivalent using the official weekly auction exchange rate. Staffers are staying at the hotel on full board, meaning that government is footing the cost of their meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
A source close to the extensive restructuring exercise told the Independent that government’s bill at the hotel, where the fresh personnel roped in by Mangwiro to preside over influential positions within the ministry has since shot to ZW$5 million, with the amount set to balloon as they continue to lodge there.
The source said: “When Moyo was fired, Mangwiro immediately instituted a restructuring exercise which resulted in 27 directors and their deputies ordered to go on paid leave. In their place, staffers were
appointed to take their positions in an acting capacity. Those on paid leave have been receiving their full salaries, the US$75 Covid allowance awarded to civil servants and fuel allocations, among other benefits. Similarly, the staffers in an acting capacity have been staying at a hotel in the city on full board while they now enjoy improved salaries and benefits in line with their new appointments.”
Health and Child Care secretary Jasper Chimedza told the Independent to get comprehensive answers on the nature of the restructuring exercise from the ministry’s public relations manager Donald Mujiri.
In an interview, Mujiri committed to responding to questions posed by this newspaper after consultation with Chiwenga, who is overseeing the far-reaching restructuring exercise. However, at the time of going to print, he had not responded.
Among the questions posed, the Independent sought to understand the cost of the restructuring exercise, the duration of the restructuring exercise, the number of staffers sent on paid leave and the quantum of the bill picked by the government at the hotel.
HSB communications manager Tryfine Dzukutu requested for questions in writing but did not respond.
Sources told this newspaper in separate briefings that the restructuring process, apart from draining limited resources from the fiscus, could trigger a fresh headache for the government as it potentially violated labour laws by placing individuals on paid leave indefinitely.
In the case of the affected, as documents seen by the Independent indicate, staffers sent on paid leave have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
A source within the Health ministry said AttorneyGeneral Prince Machaya advised that the manner in which the restructuring process was being handled, particularly relating to indefinitely keeping staffers on paid leave, presented grave legal ramifications, if the matter spilled into court.
“The Attorney-General clearly warned that keeping workers on paid leave indefinitely was both costly to the government and could backfire if the matter went to court,” a source close to the restructuring exercise said.
In 2019, Chiwenga arbitrarily fired nurses and doctors at public health institutions who had downed tools in protest over poor remuneration.
Source – Bulawayo24
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