THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA)-owned Beitbridge Hotel has not been equipped to handle COVID-19 cases a month after it was designated for such amid revelations over $30 million is required for additional works.

BY NQOBAI NDLOVU

The hotel was turned into a coronavirus isolation and quarantine centre on March 30.

At the time, Beitbridge — a likely coronavirus hotspot owing to its close proximity to neighbouring South Africa where there are over 5 350 confirmed cases and 103 deaths — did not have an isolation centre for suspected cases.

Environment minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Nldovu, who is in charge of the inter-ministerial COVID-19 taskforce in Matabeleland South, yesterday confirmed that the hotel has not been equipped to handle coronavirus cases.

“The facility has been closed for years. It has been empty since the time when those who were operating it took everything after its closure; there were no beds, for example,” Ndlovu said.

“However, the Ministry of Public Works is working to ensure that the facility is equipped for COVID-19. We are also getting pledges from well-wishers from different stakeholders and I think in a week or two we will be ready to take in patients.”

The hotel had received 46 Zimbabweans from South Africa for quarantine by Sunday.

The 140-bed hotel was formerly leased by the Rainbow Tourism Group which shut it down in 2016 following years of successive losses. Beitbridge has not recorded a single case of COVID-19.

The Community Youth for Development Trust (ZYDT), a Matabeleland South civic organisation blamed the country’s “skewed governance system” for failure to ensure the province has a fully equipped COVID-19 centre.

“We continue to suffer social and economic marginalisation even in such crucial times. If only our authorities can start pushing for implementation of devolution, our fate is going to be better,” CYDT co-ordinator Sichasisile Ndlovu said.

“It’s also high time we collectively lobby and advocate for improved and fair allocation of resources so as to ensure infrastructural development. We also need to ensure that local miners plough back into local communities.”

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