By Desmond Chingarande
The Seventh Day Adventist Church has denied working with Sakunda Holdings in the refurbishment of Rock Foundation Medical Centre in Mt Pleasant, Harare, which the diversified firm wants to turn into a COVID isolation centre.
Sakunda, owned by fuel mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei, submitted a letter to the High Court as part of documentary evidence in its case against Harare resident Roger Stringer, claiming the church was involved in the hospital rehabilitation project.
Stringer was contesting the setting up of an infectious diseases hospital in a residential area.
Justice Happias Zhou on Tuesday ruled that the hospital would be in the public interest and that Stringer failed to prove how the medical centre would expose him to the deadly coronavirus.
To bolster its case, Sakunda submitted a document to the High Court which was purportedly signed by Health secretary Agnes Mahomva on March 27 with instructions to City of Harare health services director Prosper Chonzi to facilitate the licensing of the hospital as an isolation centre for COVID-19 patients.
The document insinuated that Sakunda and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church were in collaboration and wished to assist the government of Zimbabwe to combat the COVID-19 by leasing the Arundel Medical Hospital as an isolation centre.
But in a letter dated March 30, Seventh-Day Adventist Church executive secretary Zibusiso Ndhlovu denied any involvement with Sakunda, saying matters concerning the development and running of hospitals were the jurisdiction of union conferences, according to their policy.
Ironically, Tagwirei is a member of the same church.
“To our concern, it has come to our attention, through social media, that a letter dated March 27, 2020 has purportedly been written by secretary for Health and Child Care to the City of Harare asserting that Sakunda Holdings in conjunction with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church are requesting the use of Arundel Medical Hospital as an isolation centre for COVID-19 patients,” Ndhlovu said.
“Matters concerning the development and running of the hospitals are the jurisdiction of union conferences of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church according to Adventist church policy.
“In this case, it would be the Zimbabwe East Union Conference (ZEUC). While this appears to be worthy cause, the ZEUC has neither collaborated with Sakunda Holdings nor the Ministry of Health and Child Care in this matter. We have also not received any communication to that effect.”
The document also caused arguments at the High Court over its authenticity, with Stringer’s lawyers Jeremiah Bhamu and Obey Shava insisting it was fake.
Justice Zhou turned down the request by lawyers to file an affidavit requiring further verifications of the document.
But Mahomva, in her letter that formed the evidence before the court, wrote: “Sakunda Holdings in conjunction with the Seventh Day Adventist Church wishes to assist the government of Zimbabwe in combating the COVID-19 scourge by leasing the Arundel Medical Hospital on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Child Care for use as an isolation centre,” News Day