New information has emerged that Mponela Rural Hospital is not the only victim of the bed-snatching saga benefiting Mzimba, which is Vice-President and Health Minister Khumbo Kachaliâ€™s home district.
Â Weekend Nation has established, through an interview with Ministry of Healthâ€™s director of physical assets management (PAM) Dr Lovemore Mkukuma on Thursday, that the ministry also moved 12 beds from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe to Mzimba Central and South West constituencies where by-elections will be held next month.
Â â€œIn Mponela, there were 13 beds taken whereas six beds were taken from a KCH ward and another six were taken from our workshop in the referral maintenance unit [at KCH], making it a total of 12 beds,â€ he said.
Mkukuma said all the 12 beds at KCH were broken and had to be repaired before they were taken away.
According to Mkukuma, the ministry also sourced some 25 mattressesâ€”10 from a supplier in Lilongwe and 15 from Blantyre.
He said his department was not involved in the actual dispatching of the beds as it was done through the ministryâ€™s departments of administration, transport and procurement.
Mkukuma could not mention the specific hospitals where the beds were taken to.
But Weekend Nation established that some of the beds were sent to Euthini Health Centre in Mzimba Central and the yet-to-be completed Edingeni Health Centre in Mzimba South West.
Mzimba district health officer Dr George Chilinda also confirmed that 13 beds were delivered at Euthini Health Centre, but said he does not know where the other 12 beds were sent to.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t know if Edingeni also received the beds because there is a new hospital at Edingeni which has not yet been completed and handed over to us. This means that whatever materials are going there are not passing through our office,â€ said Dr Chilinda.
However, one hospital worker from Euthini Health Centre, who declined to be mentioned, confirmed that the beds were loaded in a government lorry at around 11pm in the night and left Euthini Health Centre for Edingeni at around midnight.
Further investigations show that the Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) candidate in the Mzimba Central Constituency on Sunday told a church congregation at Mbalachanda CCAP that he personally bought the controversial beds and donated them to Euthini Health Centre.
Earlier that morning, Wedson Beza is said to have first told officials at the health centre when handing over the 13 beds that he had bought them.
Mbalachanda CCAP Church pastor the Reverend Anthony Luhanga confirmed in an interview on Thursday that the candidate made such an announcement.
â€œIn fact, it is true that he made the announcement. But that does not involve me as a church reverend,â€ said Luhanga, who declined to comment more on the issue.
According to information from those who attended the church service, Bezaâ€™s remarks were made in the presence of other candidates and some officials from political parties involved in the by-elections, including PP campaign chair for the by-elections Ralph Kasambara.
The church had organised special prayers and invited these people.
One of the independent candidates, Joseph Kachali, who also attended the church service, confirmed that Beza declared that he had bought the beds for the health centre.
â€œThe service started at around 10am, but Beza came in a little late at around 11.20am and as he was being introduced to the congregation, he apologised for coming late, saying he had bought some beds and he had passed through Euthini Health Centre to hand them over,â€ disclosed Kachali.
Beza could not be immediately found on his mobile phone for comment.
But Kasambara, in an interview on Wednesday, said although the candidate mentioned the beds during the church service, he did not say that he himself or any other PP official bought them.
â€œI was actually the guest of honour during the prayers and what he said was that the Ministry of Health has finally delivered the beds at Euthini Health Centre,â€ said Kasambara, who is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. He is also PPâ€™s director of legal affairs.
Another twist to the beds saga
The beds saga took a twist on Wednesday when a campaign director for one independent candidate went into hiding after police wanted to arrest him Tuesday night following his interview on a local radio station whereÂ he said the controversial Mponela beds were indeed delivered to Euthini Health Centre.
Henry Shumba, campaign director for Kandodo Mvula, confirmed that he is in hiding.
Shumba said about four police officers stormed his house Tuesday night and nearly arrested him before he bolted.
â€œThey forced open the door of my house and also into my bedroom where they found me naked and ordered me to dress up while threatening me, citing the radio interview I had on Zodiak about the beds as my crime,â€ he said.
Mzimba Police spokesperson Gift Nyirongo declined to comment on the hunt for Shumba.