Zimbabwe: Ultimatum for NatPharm Bosses

Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, led by committee chairperson Dr Ruth Labode, left, are taken on a tour of the NatPharm warehouse in Harare in February 2019 by stores pharmacist Rumbidzai Kanhema, right.

Government yesterday gave National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm) directors a one-week ultimatum to disburse to various health institutions across the country, medicine stockpiled at the firm's Harare warehouse or risk losing their jobs.

The ultimatum followed a fact-finding visit last week by First Lady Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa where she slammed NatPharm for withholding medicines at a time when patients were failing to access drugs.

Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo directed that NatPharm deal with pilferage and leakages of drugs by providing proper security.

Minister Moyo said this last night during a marathon meeting with management of the parastatal where he had gone to find out how the firm was failing to supply drugs available at its warehouse.

"I am giving you one week to clear all those boxes that are here. You have to make sure that all those stocks move to districts, laboratories, clinics. We cannot have excuses. So it is up to you to come up with a system in place that takes care of the movement of the products," said Minister Moyo.

"I want to warn you that this is a new dispensation. We are not going to tolerate people who do not want to work. The time of relaxing is gone. It went with the old dispensation. The Second Republic wants to ensure that people deliver. I want to see a change in your behaviour, in your performance. I want to see people spending more time on the shop floor rather than in offices. I want to see directors, starting with the managing director, who know what is happening at each and every corner of Natpharm. We have given you enough warning, enough time, it is now up to you to make sure you work in line with the time of Government. Do you want your jobs, if you want your jobs you have to work hard."

Minister Moyo said he was surprised as to why Natpharm was stockpiling drugs.

"Are you using them yourself, maybe you are taking the medication yourself, maybe you are all sick," asked Minister Moyo, adding that the Natpharm warehouse was a transitory place and not for permanent storage.

"You cannot wait for us to come here and tell you what to do, you must think for yourself, you are adults. Make sure all the products as they arrive, are checked in and checked out immediately. I would like you to spend more time in warehouses than in your offices. We do not have to come from head office to come and commandeer you, you are all people who are employed. You are paid. So let us work in line with the pay you are receiving. Let us save our jobs by working hard. If you do not want to work chose somewhere else. We do not want people who just think of tea."

Earlier on Natpharm managing director, Mrs Florah Sifeku said they distributed medicine that would have been ordered.

She said some of the stockpiled medicine was destined for laboratories who were not able to immediately take them up because of absence of other consumables and equipment.

Mrs Sifeku said medicines were first line HIV/AIDS drugs that ordinarily come in huge quantities.

She said they were working round the clock to expeditiously distribute the medicine.

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