One of the main reason the multibillion pula state-of-the-art Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is failing to begin its first phase of operation is because Cabinet has pushed the institution’s envisaged remuneration structure submitted by the board earlier this year under the carpet.
Information before this publication shows that the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), together with SKMTH board, agreed that the quaternary hospital will have to hire experts and therefore remunerate handsomely. The Ministry together with the board then roped in Tsa-Badiri Consultants to draft the Teaching Hospital pay structure which was shoved under the carpet without any reasons advanced to the concerned parties by cabinet.
“The remuneration strategy was presented to cabinet so that it can be adopted. But it was deferred because there were other developments. This institution needs skilled personnel so it is not like the budget was ridiculous or something, we did this in consultation with experts after looking at the market price and other related things,” former Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Alfred Madigele confirmed. It is however not coming out clear as to why cabinet had to defer the pay structure.
Madigele says it was because there were other developments, a reason which according to proponents of the institution does not hold water. “If the remuneration was too much they could have shared, but I doubt it was, because this is a tertiary hospital of which we will have to pay its staff workers handsomely,” says a concerned source who had expected the facility to be operating by now.
Government is however still hopeful that the hospital will attract the best clinical and academic staff in the region, possibly internationally, and will be a destination of choice for clients seeking world class cost effective medical services. The mandate of the hospital when fully functional is threefold: to provide world class medical services at a quaternary level, to work in conjunction with the University of Botswana School of Health Services to provide world class health education, and lastly to act as a hub for health research.
Upon full commissioning, SKMTH is expected to offer broad areas of service like; Critical and Trauma Care, Women and Child Care, Cardiac Care Comprehensive Oncology Care, Nephrology and Transplant Services, Internal Medicine, Surgical Services and Allied Health Services. Weekendpost is reliably informed that another reason why the facility is still not open is lack of technical partners. Initially, SKMTH was to get technical advice from University of Botswana’s medical school but it appears the deal has collapsed.
“The government wants Rutgers University to offer technical advice because they are experience and recently ministry officials toured the hospital in USA to familiarize themselves with the process of a teaching hospital,” disclosed a source. Madigele admitted that while still a Minister, they were still looking for technical advisors but could not confirm if the government has agreed a deal with Rutgers University.
The capital expenditure of the teaching hospital is estimated on the region of P2 billion. Operating costs are still being defined as part of the business plan, but it was estimated at P1 billion a year. Government had wished the hospital would open in March, but after some hiccups in the commissioning process, its grand opening was billed for April this year. New information gleaned from sources say, the facility might open in June next year after all the processes have been satisfied.
“These would include hiring of the staff because for you to be accredited you should have workers in place. These employees will have to look at critical parts of the hospital like radiation control and check if other equipment like X-rays and mammograms, which are at required level. Until all those have been met that hospital will remain a white elephant,” added the informant.
For a long time the government has been sending patients to India and South Africa for average and complicated surgeries. A whopping P 627 504 802, was spent on South African hospitals between 2014 and 2017, while Indian hospitals gobbled P13 million from the Ministry between 2015 and 2017. It was expected that SKMTH will be the panacea but its continued delay will bleed the government wallet.
Cases that have been referred across the borders include Oncology Care, Nephrology and Transplant Services. Reasons to transfer patients to private facilities outside borders ranged from complicated cases, lack of proper equipment and infrastructure in the local hospitals. Both Marina and Nyangabgwe are said to be lacking capacity in the three components to do the work with diligence. Additionally, SKMTH is expected to train and produce international standard healthcare professionals for the entire national healthcare system, and beyond.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.