Government, Tšepong Consortium relations broken
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By Retšelisitsoe Khabo
Lesotho is working on cutting the umbilical cord with its first world bank approaved public private partnership run hospital after a protracted dispute between government and the hospital.
Health Minister Semamo Sekatle has announced that cabinet decided to terminate its working relationship with Tšepong Consortium.
He said more than 300 nurses who were fired by Tšepong that runs the Queen mamohato Memorial Hospital due to a strike that lasted for more than 40 days in demand for higher pay is among issues that caused the termination of the contract.
The nurses, Sekatle said will be absorbed into government-owned hospitals and health centres across the country.
Tšepong consortium is a conglomerate led by South African company Netcare which owns 40 percent shares of Tšepong, other shareholders another South African company Affrinnai that owns 20 percent and remainder 40 percent owned by Lesotho’s Excel health with 20% shares women’s investment company with 10% shares and D10 investment with 10% shares.
He outlined that in the agreement the hospital was supposed to have a private ward but Tšepong failed to meet that condition.
Sekatle further said Tšepong clenches 555 million from his ministry that he alleged goes on to make almost 50 percent of the ministry’s budget.
Sekatle said the government is giving Tšepong enough money that should be used to pay the nurses but it has failed to do so sparking the nurses to strike.
Sekatle said the PPP agreement had some problems since it’s started which were caused by the misunderstandings of the same PPP agreement.
Sekatle said there are still some issues before arbitration that need to be resolved which includes Tšepong failure to provide insurance for patients to cover cases if there might be any medical malpractice.
He also said payment of accommodation of doctors at is another issues that Tšepong wants his ministry to pay for and other unforeseeable conduct which has caused the downing of tools by nurses.
Sekatle also outlined that the allocation of duties at Tšepong is another problem which he alleged violates corporate governance.
He said the corporate governance issues have caused a major difference within the board of Tšepong.
Sekatle said government will engage Basotho companies that are shareholders within Tšepong to find the resolution on how to conduct and deliver quality health services to Basotho.
But, Finance Minister Thabo Sofonea has said this move will be costly for the country as it may cost around M3 billion to sever ties completely with Tšepong.
Sofonea said the only opportunity presented by cutting the ties is ensuring that government is saved from having to pay more than M3 billion if relationship with Tšepong continues.