The Indian investor who had been identified to run Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo ‘changed their mind’ and would no longer be investing in the specialist health centre.
Ekusileni Medical Centre is a brainchild of the late Vice President, Dr Joshua Nkomo, but the hospital has been closed for close to two decades while several attempts to reopen it have failed.
In early 2019, the government entered into an agreement with Sharda Group of Institutions (SGI), to resuscitate the hospital and in March SGI announced they had started recruiting hospital personnel in preparation for the re-opening of the facility.
SGI said it would also visit the country for final arrangements before opening the hospital but that partnership with the government has since collapsed.
The government now claims it has since identified new investors.
Sources said running Ekusileni hospital is very expensive, as the institution requires specialist equipment, which the Indian investor was prepared to bring in but was “probably dismayed by the state of politics in the country, which was unconducive for investment.”
Responding to questions from the media in Bulawayo recently, Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo, confirmed the Indian investors had ‘changed their minds’ about investing in Ekusileni.
“(Provincial Medical Director for Matabeleland North, who acts for Bulawayo as well), Dr Purgie Chimberegwa was leading the team of identifying possible investors and we went all the way to India where we had identified some investors eventually. I think they decided to change their minds,” he said.
The minister claimed the government has found new partners after re-starting their search for new investment.
“We have gone out again, we have some new investors who will be coming through to view the facility, it was just a legal issue had to get them out of the way then bring in new investors. So the new investors are there, they appear to be solid. What we look for is funding in the first place and if they have funds then they come and see the facility,” Moyo alleged.
He said that the government wanted to make sure that Ekusileni is opened before the end of the year.
“The hospital should be up and running and at the same time we also have some contingency plans where the government will also put in some money making sure that the hospital starts working,” the minister claimed.
In November last year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said the government was considering transforming Ekusileni into a cancer referral medical facility for the country.
He said this during the 2019 pre-budget seminar held in Victoria Falls where he appealed for Parliament’s indulgence to allocate funds to open the hospital.
This was in response to a legislator’s question on why the government was not considering establishing a cancer fund in the same way there is an Aids Levy.
“We all know that cancer is a core source of morbidity with HIV and Aids. I was listening when you spoke of the need for a cancer levy and I want to say we already have a health levy though I agree that perhaps we need to transform the health fund. Non-communicable diseases, particularly cancer, are a big issue. But my plea is, allow me to put a budget for Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo so it can become a cancer referral hospital for our country. Just instruct me. If you say yes I will do it,” Prof Ncube said at that time.