Chiwenga’s Nursing School Closed Amid Political Tensions in Zimbabwe

Factional Conflicts Impact Operations; School Faces Comprehensive Review

by Adenike Adeodun

The nursing school in Chivhu, established under the leadership of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga during his tenure as the Health and Child Care minister, has been closed due to substandard operations exacerbated by Zanu PF factional conflicts. This institution was initially conceptualized by Chiwenga’s deputy at the time, John Mangwiro, who was also the Chikomba West legislator. The school was part of a broader initiative purportedly aimed at securing Mangwiro’s re-election, though he was ultimately defeated by Tatenda Mavetera in the Zanu PF primaries before the 2023 elections.

Mavetera, now the Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services minister and an ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, took over the seat amidst allegations of election disputes. Political analysts suggest that the ongoing power struggles between factions aligned with Chiwenga and Mnangagwa have spilled over into various state functions, including the administration of the nursing school.

According to reports, these internal party conflicts have led to excessive enrollment at the nursing school, significantly exceeding its capacity. The school, designed to accommodate only 10 students, found itself overwhelmed with over 150 enrollees recommended by both factions. This overcrowding severely compromised the training standards set by the Nursing Council of Zimbabwe (NCZ), leading to a decline in educational quality.

Government authorities, recognizing the untenable situation, decided to intervene by closing the school. The closure was meant to address the infrastructural and administrative deficiencies that had led to its operational decline. Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Sleiman Timios Kwidini, emphasized that the closure was temporary and aimed at restructuring the school to meet acceptable standards. He noted that the current students were relocated to other institutions to continue their education, ensuring that their training was not interrupted.

The decision to shut down the school is part of a broader governmental effort to enhance the quality of nursing education across the country. This initiative aligns with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030, which seeks to elevate educational standards and healthcare services in Zimbabwe. The government plans to not only renovate the existing infrastructure but also to expand educational facilities to accommodate more students in a conducive learning environment.

However, the closure has sparked a variety of reactions. Some see it as a necessary step to salvage the integrity of nursing education, while others view it as a political maneuver influenced by ongoing factional battles within Zanu PF. The situation has been further complicated by reports of procedural irregularities in the school’s establishment. A Health Ministry report revealed that the school had been operating without proper authorization from the NCZ, and there were discrepancies in its licensing.

These regulatory oversights have led to an inquiry into the roles and decisions of various officials, including a director within the Health Ministry who allegedly approved the school’s operation under Chiwenga’s directive. This inquiry aims to unravel the administrative lapses that allowed the school to function outside the legal frameworks, ensuring such errors are not repeated in the future.

The closure of the nursing school in Chivhu highlights the challenges of intertwining political interests with educational objectives. It underscores the need for transparency, regulatory compliance, and a focus on educational quality over political expediency. As the government works to overhaul the school and possibly re-open it with improved facilities and governance, it remains to be seen how these efforts will reshape the landscape of nursing education in Zimbabwe amidst ongoing political tensions.


Source: Newsday

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