By Jonathan Maphenduka
AMID a flurry of government efforts to find suitable accommodation for the treatment of the Covid-19 patients, it was announced that Ekusileni Hospital in Bulawayo’s posh Hillside Suburb had been identified as a centre for the pandemic patients.
It has since, however, been reported that this is not possible, for some reason. This means that Bulawayo still has to find a suitable place to treat coronavirus in the event of an upsurge of the pandemic in the city. It has become apparent that government is not moving fast enough to find another suitable centre. If they were doing something about it, government or its agencies would be talking about it to re-assure the public.
The hospital, according to his children, was built in honour of the late former vice-president Joshua Nkomo but if for some reason the ownership is disputed, why hasn’t someone gone to court to settle the dispute? The hospital was built over 20 years ago and Nkomo has been dead since 1989 and still no one has apparently made a court case of the dispute to settle the matter.
The facility — one of its kind in the country — was built on a piece of land, which must have been registered in the name of the person who acquired the land from its registered owner. Government, on the one hand, does not appear to have sought to establish ownership of the hospital before announcing the hospital as a centre for Covid-19.
The disputed ownership of the hospital has been public knowledge for some time now and government had plenty of time to find out if the issue had been settled.
Many years ago a group of South African doctors were reported to be moving to open the hospital, but the door was slammed against them.
Government is a jealous god who does not want his wisdom (this includes it questionable decisions) to be questioned. It appears, however, that government has chosen Hillside Teachers College to replace Ekusileni. The college is an institution designed for teaching teachers. The college, with all goodwill in the world, cannot fully and adequately replace the facility of Ekusileni. To bring the college to the required standard to fight the virus, money will have to be expended to suit the requirements of a health centre.
However, even then the college cannot provide facilities that are necessary to fight the pandemic’ uninhibited by the restrictions of a facility, which was designed for other purposes.
Moreover, the country right now is operating under conditions of an emergency, and government has the power to have Ekusileni Hospital opened under the requirements of an emergency. It then can use the money that will be spent on renovating Hillside Teacher’s College. This option, it appears, does not appeal to the government as an individual will benefit.
This is a subject, which offends government’s jealously guarded wisdom.
With the announcement that the facility is not available, government is now under extreme pressure to be seen to be doing all in its power to find an alternative facility to meet the required standards.
Meanwhile, the city of Bulawayo has been authorised by government to move all vendors from the central business district of the city.
This means that all street vendors will be relocated to designated vending facilities in the western suburbs. The streets in the city centre where vending was conducted will now resort to use by motor vehicles.
The move will contribute considerably to social distancing and help minimise the spread of Covid-19. This follows government’s recent announcement urging local authorities to take advantage of the lockdown to relocate vendors to improve social distancing.
For the city of Bulawayo this directive could not have come at a better time because the city had become an eyesore as vendors squatted everywhere. This will also help government cope with the parallel market, which for years now had become uncontrollable, and Bulawayo had become the so-called World Bank of the country.
In 2005 the government of Robert Mugabe launched an operation, which was christianed “Murambatsvina” in the high density suburbs of the country, which left millions of residents without roofs over their heads. That cruel and cynical operation by an administration that claimed to represent what is best for the people, moved the United Nations to send a representative to investigate. A UN report revealed the devastating and degrading effects of the operation.
Since then, government has attempted to repair the damage by authorising construction of housing on unserviced land, creating unseemly structures to house (in the case of Bulawayo) “immigrants” from other parts of the country which has turned the city into a dormitory town of the country.
Street-vending has replaced decent work that the city once offered.
l Jonathan Maphenduka contact 0772 332 404