Government to terminate Tšepong multi-million contract

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The government of Lesotho has charged the Ministries of Health and Finance to activate the process of abrogating its contract with the Tšepong Pty Ltd that runs the state of the art Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH).

This is according to the Minister of Health Hon. Semano Sekatle.

The Minister has warned also that this process could take time. He further called on the companies which have partnered with the Netcare Group which is commanding higher stake of 40 percent shareholding under Tšepong Consortium that the government is prepared to hold talks with them on the way forward post the termination of the existing contract.

Revealing this decision yesterday at the press conference in Maseru, Sekatle said was mired by the discrepancies from inception.

According to the Minister of Development Planning Hon. Selibe Mochoboroane, who is also a member of the task force working on the issue of Tšepong saga, the move by the government is to “protect the lives of Basotho and the welfare of the [fired] nurses”.

Mochoboroane further promised that the government will work to bring normalcy at that hospital although he did not specify the timeframe.

The task team is made up of the Minister of Health, Minister of Development Planning, Minister of Finance Hon. Thabo Sophonea, Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, Minister of Employment and Labour Hon. Moshe Leoma, Minister of Justice and Law Professor Nqosa Mahao and the Minister of Education and Training Hon. Ntlhoi Motsamai.

The Ministry of Health pays Tšepong about M555 million which is almost half of that ministry’s budget annually for the services it provides.

Following the 40 day strike by the QMMH nurses and nursing assistants over the salaries disparities wherein they demanded an increment, the hospital management has issued the dismissal letters to its 345 nurses on March 12, the development which caused the public uproar on many quarters with some taking to media to denounce the Tšepong.

Tšepong nurses had downed tools demanding that the hospital review their salaries which were last visited in 2012.

The nurses were also aggrieved by the arrangement wherein they were charged to mentor the Ministry of Health (MoH) nurses whose salaries surpass theirs and they argued are working in a tertiary hospital where all other critical cases are referred to them. The Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) said the move is “unfair” to their members. “It is unfair to receive salary far less than what their colleagues are getting yet they are working in a tertiary hospital where all complicated services across the country are referred to”.