This Week in The Khuta – Kamwi on his political deathbed?
The energetic Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi seems to be a man in crisis. Hardly a week passes without the good doctor making the headlines in our local newspapers for seemingly all the wrong reasons.
On several occasions the Minister has been forced to defend himself to the media, and one cannot help but feel sorry for him because evidently he tries so hard to make his ministry functional. That Kamwi loves his job is unquestionable. We have seen him – like any good leader would do – driving across the country on “fact finding missions” ambushing nurses, doctors and other health professionals just to make sure that hospitals are being run in a professional manner.
But despite his efforts and good intentions, all is not well in the health Ministry. To ignore this glaring fact will be suicidal. Granted, our health system, despite its many challenges, is still one of the best on the African continent, but I digress.
The fact remains that Dr Kamwi despite all his effort and energy, he somehow finds himself on the firing line on numerous occasions for things that are happening in his ministry and his political life. From the Cuban pharmaceutical debacle to the looming nurses strike and to the political fall out in the Otjozondjupa region, Kamwi is a man under attack. I think he will be the first one to admit that the last twelve months have been hectic and not good for his political career.
The Minister was reportedly booed off stage while addressing nurses on salary related issues which, if not handled properly, threatens to put the entire public health system on its knees. Now my question is, how do you regain the respect of your peers and subordinates when you are being booed off stage? When mere employees boo a political leader off stage, for me that is a clear sign that there is no longer trust and respect between employer and employee. That is also a clear sign of a breakdown in a relationship. Is it then possible for the Minister to lead, successfully, these very same workers when all trust and respect seems to have been thrown out of the window.? Is it possible for the health workers to take the Minister serious going forward? These are all questions that need urgent answers.
While the appointing authorities recently re-assigned the former Health Permanent Secretary to another portfolio following strings of embarrassing incidents, nothing seems to have changed in the Ministry and in fact things seems to be getting worse. One cannot help but conclude that there is a deep underlying problem in the Ministry. Whether that is political, personnel or funding, I cannot say for certain but things are not the way they are supposed to be in the public health sector.
Do we need another Presidential inquiry to ascertain the real problems in the public health system? I don’t know, but one thing I know is there is need for tough decisions to be made at the top at this stage to stop all this circus and for the public to once again gain confidence in the public health system. How this will be achieved is beyond the scope of this column.