Haufiku rapped over knuckles

The head of state has taken issue with his health minister over the northern referral hospital, which will now be built in Ondangwa.

28 February 2018 | Local News

President Hage Geingob has criticised health minister Bernhard Haufiku over his handling of the contentious referral hospital, which is being planned for the north.

Geingob wrote a strongly-worded letter to Haufiku on 9 February 2018 – just two days before Namibian Sun carried an article confirming the health minister's visit to the north to inspect seven possible sites identified for the construction of the project in Ondangwa and Ongwediva.

Geingob questioned why Haufiku was insistent on visiting the northern sites, while a decision had already been taken by cabinet to construct the hospital in Ondangwa. The Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities (CCOPP) had already resolved to construct the hospital in Ondangwa.

“I am therefore puzzled by your insistence on exploring alternative sites, outside the jurisdiction of Ondangwa town, given the fact that cabinet has already decided on this matter,” Geingob wrote.

Late last month, Haufiku wrote to Oshana governor Clemens Kashuupulwa, inviting him and the Ongwediva and Ondangwa town councillors to join him for the site visits on 22 and 23 February. Four of the sites were within the jurisdiction of the Ondangwa Town Council, and three in Ongwediva.

These scheduled site visits were unceremoniously cancelled last week.

Haufiku was, however, in the north and addressed a gathering of the Namibian Surgical Society at Ondangwa on Saturday evening. Haufiku told the gathering he was disappointed by the way the whole project had turned political.

He blamed political forces in the north for him and his ministry no longer having a say regarding where a referral hospital will be built.

It has now emerged that the CCOPP, which is chaired by Geingob, had already decided to stick with Ondangwa for the construction of the state-of-the-art facility, which will house an oncology centre, a maternity block and a cardiac unit.

“In this regard, as a way forward, I advise that all stakeholders respect and adhere to the CCOPP's decision,” said Geingob.

Last week Haufiku fumed that he only learned recently that the cabinet committee had already met and deliberated on the issue without his input.

After a consultative meeting with northern health professionals and the political leadership from the Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshikoto regions at Ongwediva, regarding the plan to construct a

1 000-bed hospital in Oshana in May last year, Haufiku ordered Ondangwa and Ongwediva to identify sites for the facility by 30 June 2017.

He also asked the Oshana regional leadership to come up with recommendations for a site at Ondangwa or Ongwediva, which would then be assessed for suitability by independent geo-scientific consultants. However, the Oshana political leadership unanimously agreed to have the referral hospital built at Ondangwa, at the expense of Ongwediva.

The decision was made a resolution of the regional council.

Yesterday Ondangwa Town Council CEO Ismael Namgongo confirmed receiving a letter from State House confirming their town as the preferred location for the referral hospital project. “Justice has been served because a lot of money has already been spent on the site that was initially earmarked for the district hospital that come a long way since 2003. The community of Ondangwa has been expecting a bigger hospital to be constructed in Ondangwa,” he said. Namgongo said they never opposed Haufiku's view on the project. He added they were merely concerned about their town's development. Oshana Regional Council chairperson Gerson Kapenda, however, said nothing had been communicated to them regarding the final cabinet decision. Ongwediva mayor Angelina Angula also said they were not yet informed about the final cabinet decision.



ILENI NANDJATO

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