Parliament on Monday quizzed National Social Security Authority General Manager James Matiza on NSSA’s investments in the health sector as the multi-million dollar Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo lies idle years after construction.
The story of Ekusileni Medical Centre, built by tax payer dollars, is well known. A brain child of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, the hospital was closed down soon after opening briefly in 2004.
Equipment in the facility was condemned by the health ministry as obsolete and risky to use on patients. This was despite millions invested by NSSA into the hospital through the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust.
Testifying before parliament’s portfolio committee on public service, labor and social welfare on the company’s investments, Matiza said repeated efforts by NSSA to ensure the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust opened the hospital have failed.
Last year the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust, Matiza said, informed NSSA they had raised $12 million to buy equipment but needed to borrow an extra $6 million from NSSA for operational costs. This was in addition to other unspecified millions sunk into the hospital by NSSA.
“Even after availing the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust the $6 million, they have failed to open the hospital,” the NSSA general manager told the committee.
The trust, he said, had promised the hospital would be up and running by December last year but three months into the new year, nothing much has happened on the ground.
Matiza said NSSA was worried that its investment in Ekusileni is not yielding any returns as anticipated. He adds this has forced the pension fund to stop funding other health-related investments.
He said the Chitungwiza South Med Hospital, also funded by NSSA, was a major success, bringing huge returns to the pension fund.
Matiza said had Ekusileni being productive, NSSA would by now have built at least three more hospitals in the country.
Matiza also told the committee that NSSA does not lend money to individuals but banks, companies and local authorities. He said title deeds are surrendered by these entities in case they fail to repay the loans.
Efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust were futile.