CSOs Pressure Gvt To Appoint New NAC Board and CEO

THE National AIDS Council (NAC) which has gone for more than 365 days with neither a  substantive board nor Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has come under fire from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who believe the development was impacting negatively on the national HIV response.

By Michael Gwarisa

Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo dissolved the NAC board a year ago a few weeks after former NAC CEO, Dr Tapuwa Magure had resigned. Since January 2019, Mr Raymond Yekeye the NAC Operations Manager and Mr Alfred Manenji the Finance Director, have held the position of CEO on an acting basis.

However delays to the appointment of the new board have been attributed to bureaucratic tendencies bedeviling government and its parastatals.

Basic Corporate governance dictates that such a large institution as big as the NAC cannot go for so long without a substantive board. It’s long overdue and is now beginning to affect the operations of not only the institution but the national HIV response.

“At the just ended Global Fund Country Committee (CCM) meeting that was held in Harare last week on January 9, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Health, Dr Agnes Mahomva acknowledged the need to address this issue but indicated that the ministry of health had done its part and the final decision was now resting with the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC),” said a civil society member who requested anonymity.

In Zimbabwe, government policy states that the OPC vets all potential candidates who would have applied to any government departments and institutions’ boards and then gives the appointing ministry the list of approved candidates.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Executive Director, Mr Itai Rusike however emphasized the need for government to urgently reconstitute a board which which he says would give the proper policy direction to the organisation.

“The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) calls on the the Honourable Minister of Health and Child Care,  Dr Obadiah Moyo to urgently reconstitute the National AIDS Council (NAC) Board to enable the board to give proper policy direction to the organization as the organization has been operating without a board since early last year and this is against the tenets of good corporate governance,transparency and accountability.

“The organization may risk losing the confidence  and trust of donors, partners, beneficiaries and key stakeholders such as the Global Fund as NAC plays a pivotal role in the HIV and AIDS response in the country. The organization also needs to urgently appoint a substantive Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to make sure that NAC functions normally and make important policy decisions that benefit the general public and the targeted beneficiaries,” said Mr Rusike

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He added that they disapprove the current ad-hoc and reactive appointments being done at NAC, an important organization that holds keys to millions of lives that cannot do without its services.

“We cannot allow such an important institution to operate on autopilot  – without a Board and a substantive CEO as if Zimbabwe is short of talented and competent people. Hiring Acting CEOs one after the other is not a sign of good corporate governance. We demand a qualified and competent CEO and a Board that should not only rebrand NAC but practically turn it around for the benefit of Zimbabweans.”

Zimbabwe Aids Network (ZAN) National Coordinator, Mr Taurai Nyandoro concurred with Mr Rusike and said the issue of the NAC board was long overdue and needed to be addressed urgently.

“Whatever the administrative processes taking place, inadvertently they have become an albatross to good governance for a public entity. The delays are in contravention of the Public Entities Management Act, so yes the parent Ministry needs to expeditiously address this,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pan-African Positive Women’s Coalition Zimbabwe (PAPWC ZIM) national coordinator, Tendai Westerhoff said  there was need to revisit the NAC Act of parliament.

“Parliament must revisit the NAC Act and ensure its aligned with the current health trends now that the UHC agenda has become topical and those targets for 2020 NAC must be disbanded .If they are failing to embrace the various communities affected and living with HIV especially women and girls then NAC has lost its purpose Minister must appoint the NAC Board and recruit a CEO its now over a year.”

She added that they were calling on the Health portfolio committee of parliament to really look at the feasibility of making NAC a department in the ministry of health adding that there is need for wide and intense consultations with civil society and all stakeholders for a collective and informed position on the matter.

 

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