HARARE – The Director of Harare City Health Services (CoH), Dr. Prosper Chonzi, has changed his recent appointment as Acting City Clerk.
Chonzi, who was appointed to the same post in 2020, gave various reasons for rejecting the increase in his letter to Acting Mayor Stewart Mutizwa.
“I refer to the above and your letter of February 5, 2021,” the statement read.
“First of all, I would like to thank you, Deputy Mayor, for the fact that you were able to work in my capacity and also in the senior position of Town Clerk.
“As you know, I took up the position last year for a period of nearly three months, with some reservations of course, but with a view to continuity in municipal administration.
“During this period last year, this was understandable given the apparent decline in Covid19 cases across the country during the first wave of the outbreak. (In retrospect, however, this was a fatal error, as the system failed to anticipate and respond to the second, deadlier wave in a timely manner).
“Your Honor, as I alluded to last week during our discussion of the same subject, and indeed, after careful consideration, I have come to the following conclusion:
- The country and the city are now in the midst of a second wave of the Covid19 pandemic which is deadlier than the first wave and has also made the city the top hotspot in the country with the highest number of cases, and also unfortunately the highest mortality. We are at a sensitive point in the development of the epidemic and we are not off the hook.
“There are plans to introduce a vaccination program against Covid-19, a comprehensive program that requires careful planning and effective implementation.
“We are also considering a possible scenario of the third wave of the epidemic. All of this requires everyone to be on deck and the best skills available in the Ministry of Health.
“My department, and indeed the city and the people of Harare, need me at this critical time as the Director of Content for Health Services and at the forefront of the city’s Covid19 response strategy.
“Leadership will be essential to live and control this pandemic effectively and efficiently. It would indeed be a joke and an act of professional irresponsibility on my part to relinquish the leadership of the city’s health department at this time, and my conscience will forever haunt me if I do.
- The Director of Health whom I represent is the face of the ministry to our valued partners. As you know, Your Honor, the success of the department has always depended on building strong relationships with development partners and other external entities.
“So my presence as director of health has an impact on the maintenance of this relationship. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the city government is perhaps one of the council departments with some semblance of functionality. But even then, given the difficult environment in the country, the ministry is currently not in its strongest shape and faces several challenges that require a hands-on approach at the highest level.
- The city is currently facing a variety of challenges including urban planning and land management issues, deficiencies in the water and sanitation network, waste management, road infrastructure, staffing and outstanding disciplinary cases, funding and cash flow issues.
“Your adoration, I must humbly submit that it is inadvisable to change the guard at the health department at this crucial stage in the response to this unprecedented outbreak that has rocked the city to its core.
“All of these challenges require a full-time employee who is focused on these issues and has the relevant skills in the aforementioned areas. I have been a physician and public health specialist for almost thirty years. In fact, over the years I have become a national resource on public health issues, particularly for other local authorities.
“I always wanted my career path to follow my skills. As a professional, I would feel very uncomfortable if I found myself in a situation where my skills were not up to par. I believe the city has opportunities, very good opportunities, both internally and externally, to select a competent person to lead the city at this time.
“Your Honour, while I fully appreciate the trust you place in me, I have no illusions about the magnitude of the challenges facing the City, while being aware of the responsibilities that Council has entrusted to me, fully aware of the residents of Harare and the Minister of Health to lead the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“After considering all of the above and after careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot fill this position at this time.
4. Allow me, Your Honour, to inform the Minister of Health and Children of this development and my position on it, together with a copy of this letter. As the director of health services, I exercise delegated functions, mainly from the ministry of health and child care, and according to the law on public health, the ministry of health is interested in matters affecting the country’s public health, especially in epidemic situations,” the letter concludes.