Mkhululi Sibanda, Assistant Editor
FORMER Vice-President Mr Phelekezela Mphoko allegedly threatened the chief executive officer of the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, with unspecified action accusing her of directing the institution to stop the salary of one of his daughters who works at the hospital as a medical doctor, Sunday News can reveal.
According to sources at the hospital, Mr Mphoko called Mrs Ndlovu and threatened to “deal with her” when the hospital authorities ceased the salary of his daughter, Dr Sikhumbuzo Mphoko who went Awol during Operation Restore Legacy in November last year when the Zimbabwe Defence Forces launched the exercise targeting criminal elements surrounding former President Robert Mugabe.
A key member of the G40 cabal, Mr Mphoko had left Zimbabwe on an official visit to Japan on 14 November, a day before the defence forces launched the operation and he did not return to the country but instead, flew to Botswana where he was holed up until 1 December. His family including his two daughters who are medical doctors at UHB, Sikhumbuzo and Siduduzo reportedly also left the country and joined him in Botswana. Mrs Ndlovu confirmed that Mr Mphoko threatened her when the hospital ceased the salary of Dr Sikhumbuzo Mphoko.
“When they returned they reported for work but we had ceased the salary of one of the former VP’s daughters as she had not reported for duty for a continuous period of 14 days. We had no problems with the other one as she had followed the correct procedure of doing things here,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
“With regards with the other one, Mphoko contacted me and threatened me with unspecified action accusing me of being behind the ceasing of the salary of his daughter. I felt threatened and disappointed. I felt threatened because he used strong language against me which I can’t repeat. I was disappointed because I expected him to know what happens when someone just stops reporting for duty without following the necessary procedures. I expected him to know better as he once served as the country’s VP.”
After the threats, Mrs Ndlovu was then forced to inform her bosses in Harare. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Retired Major-General (Dr) Gerald Gwinji, then wrote to Mr Mphoko explaining the circumstances that resulted in the hospital ceasing the salary of his daughter. In the letter dated 31 January 2018 Rtd Maj-Gen (Dr) Gwinji wrote to Mr Mphoko stating that the CEO and her team followed due process in ceasing the salary of Dr Sikhumbuzo Mphoko.
“It is Government policy that salaries for any member who does not report for duty for a continuous period of 14 days be ceased as a way of controlling the wage bill. Dr Mphoko neither applied for leave nor informed the hospital authorities about her absence from work. The chief executive officer did what was expected under the circumstances. Request for the re-instatement on the pay sheet was initiated by the chief executive officer when Dr Mphoko eventually reported for duty and explained the circumstances around her absence from duty.”
When Sunday News contacted Rtd Maj-Gen (Dr) Gwinji he said his letter to the former VP was not acknowledging harassment of staff by Mr Mphoko, but it was meant to explain the fact that when the “doctors in question went absent without official leave the administration at UBH acted procedural by taking them off the payroll and allowing for procedural reconsideration of their case as they presented for duty after this period of absence.”
Efforts to contact Mr Mphoko were fruitless as all his two mobile phone numbers were said to be no longer in service.