Home » Judicial » Kereke Woes Mount

CONTROVERSIAL Bikita West legislator, Munyaradzi Kereke’s problems mounted last week when his second hospital, Fortress, which had been teetering on the brink for several months, closed shop. Fortress was closed two weeks ago after its clinical director, whose name was simply given as Dr Jeyacheya, tendered her resignation letter which left the hospital without a resident doctor. She resigned in protest over unpaid salaries stretching for six months.

At law, hospitals in Zimbabwe are not permitted to continue operations without the services of a resident doctor. The Financial Gazette also understands that most of Fortress hospital equipment, including medicines, has since been transferred to Rockfoundation Medical Centre (RMC) in Mt Pleasant for safe storage.

Sources told the Financial Gazette that staff at the hospital last received their full salaries in January this year and have since been getting as low as US$30 per month each. The workers have since been ordered to go on an unpaid forced leave as frenetic efforts are underway to try and resuscitate the hospital. Jeyacheya, the sources said, had in recent months been reporting for duty on an ad hoc basis since March this year before she finally threw in the towel on July 1.

The hospital has also been hit by a massive staff shortage which saw it operate with the services of just a single registered general nurse for several months and the few weeks before its closure saw security guards carrying reception duties. Sources said Kereke paid a visit to the hospital a day before its closure and asked the few remaining employees to go on forced leave without pay.

Kereke told the workers that he was looking for a new clinical director whom he expected to start working in August after which the hospital would be reopened. There was no activity when the Financial Gazette visited the hospital in Ruwa with both entrance and exit gates locked. There was a bold notice on the billboard which read: ‘Hospital closed for renovations’ but when this reporter checked, no renovation work was going on.

The two guards manning the premises denied this reporter entry into the premises and barred him from taking photographs and threatened to confiscate the camera. Meanwhile, turbulence has hit Kereke’s flagship RMC after workers received just a dollar each for their June salaries. The workers, who have been neglected by lawyers that had expressed interest in representing them after Kereke reported them to the Law Society of Zimbabwe for unethical conduct, have set themselves on collision course with the combative legislator who is understood to be considering sending them home.

The workers, who also feel cheated by the Medical Professionals and Allied Workers Union which took the matter up after lawyers, Monica Jera of Mpame and Associates and Kelvin Musoni of Musoni Law Chambers ditched them, decided to represent themselves. They held a meeting two Sundays ago and wrote a letter to the new clinical director, Michael Mangweni, outlining their grievances, among them the failure by the hospital to pay their salaries.

Mangweni said a source took the letter to Kereke and the legislator became furious and threatened that he would wield the axe. Kereke’s business empire has been on a freefall since the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority stopped cash inflows into company accounts by way of garnishee orders seeking to recover over US$400 000 it is owed in taxes. A High Court order to attach movable properties to settle debts owed to creditors also exacerbated the situaion.

Source : Financial Gazette