The Government is investigating four health centres following indications that Victoria Falls Hospital could have been swindled of over a million dollars through fraudulent purchases of medical equipment.
The equipment was part of a $6,9 million package aimed at sprucing up the hospital ahead of the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The alleged fraud was unearthed after State Procurement Board (SPB) officials noticed flaws on one of the tender papers. They immediately alerted the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the matter was referred to the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission for investigations.
Secretary for the ministry Dr Gerald Gwinji last week said all tender processes at Gwanda, Binga, Hwange and Victoria Falls hospitals had been halted to facilitate investigations.
He said: “We are just monitoring how our institutions were handling their tender procedures. We need to verify whether any tender procedures were flouted and, if such violations are noticed, we will institute administrative criminal investigations.”
SPB principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete revealed that his office stumbled upon the tender violation after it emerged that a letter authorising Victoria Falls Hospital to purchase the equipment was fake.
“The letter of May 3 2012 is a fraudulent or a forged document. The tender number 1754 quoted is also fake and does not exist in our records. The principal officer’s signature was forged. Our motto is ‘Fair and Square’, but if you look closely, the motto on the letter you refer to reads ‘Fare and Square,’’ said Mr Nyanhete.
Mr Nyanhete said it was strongly suspected that the fraud also involved Ministry of Health and Child Welfare officials, adding that there was need for police to act swiftly.
“On August 7 2012, the Secretary for Health and Child Welfare wrote to the provincial medical director (Matabeleland North), copied our offices, and instructed the cancellation of all orders fraudulently placed by officers in his ministry using the fake document.
“On August 15 2012 we wrote to the Secretary for Health and Child Welfare advising him to call the police or the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the matter.”