- Madigele’s personal dispute drags MoH into messy legal suit
- Madigele suspends business partner
- Orders MoH to revoke his partner’s practicing license
- Accused of acting unlawfully
- MoH loses with costs
LAWRENCE SERETSE & LETLHOGILE MPUANG
In a spectacular turn of events the Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele has found himself in a sticky situation after his gambit to exploit his ministerial powers, to unlawfully kick out his medical business partner from Zeta Clinic, got stopped hot in its tracks by the High Court.
The Ministry of Health & Services has lost a case at Lobatse High Court before Justice Modiri Letsididi for unlawfully revoking the medical and practicising license of one Dr Tawanda Mashinya, Minister Dr Alfred Madigele’s business partner at Zeta Clinic.
The Botswana Gazette is in possession of documents and court proceedings that reveal that on January 30, Minister of Health, Madigele, in his personal capacity as the Executive Chairman of Zeta Clinic (Pty) LTD, the company that runs Zeta Clinic, wrote a letter to Dr Mashinya suspending him from his position of Medical Doctor at the clinic with immediate effect, citing disciplinary issues such as misappropriation of company funds, unprofessional and unethical conduct as well as dishonest practice.
Dr Mashinya, through his attorneys Manyepedza Attorneys, responded in a letter dated 31st January challenging the suspension and refuting the grounds on which he had been suspended. Dr Mashinya’s lawyers reminded Dr Madigele that their client was not just a mere employee of the company but an equal shareholder (45%) as Madigele in Zeta Clinic, and therefore there was no basis for Madigele to attempt to exert authority over a fellow shareholder.
However, the day after his lawyers response to the Minister, the Minister took his personal dispute with his shareholder to the Department of Health, a department that falls directly under his ministry. On February 1st , Dr Mashinya was given a letter titled ‘REVOCATION OF YOUR LICENSE’ from the office of Director of Health Services. The letter explained that the decision to revoke Dr Mashinya’s license was an instruction from the licence holder of Zeta Medical Day Care Clinic, Dr Alfred Madigele.
Dr Mashinya challenged the Ministry’s decision in an Urgent Application at the Gaborone High Court citing The Director, Health Services, Dr Alfred Madigele and Zeta Medical Day Care Clinic as first, second and third respondents in the matter.
In their filing notice, Dr Mashinya’s representatives stated that, “The Director of Health Services (1st Respondent) erred both in law and in fact, when he failed to appreciate that regardless of the allegations made by the 2nd Respondent either as Minister of Health or as a shareholder of Zeta Clinic, there was still an obligation on the 1st Respondent to conduct some hearing and afford the applicant (Dr Mashinya) an opportunity to address the said allegations before a decision as drastic as this one could be taken.”
Mashinya claimed that “There is a clear conflict of interest and obvious bias in that the Minister of Health penned a complaint to his subordinate (The 1st Respondent) complaining about a private matter which would otherwise be a matter to be resolved in terms of the shareholder’s agreement or company law as it involves the running of a private business where the Minister has a personal interest as a shareholder.”
The Court proceedings allege that The Director Health Services erred in failing to distinguish and separate the situation presented by Minister Madigele when he purported to raise a complaint about the conduct of a fellow Doctor at their practice without basing anything on any hearing or any other exercise of due process, and electing to accept wholesale the allegations and proceedings to revoke his, Dr Mashinya’s, license.
“I submit that the Minister (2nd Respondent) here used his office to direct or demand that the 1st Respondent revoke my license and cunningly made the situation appear as though I was guilty of some professional misconduct which would otherwise make me unfit to hold office, and it is this fact which I believe ought to have been investigated, and I be allowed to address whatever the allegations were before any adverse decisions could be taken,” states Dr Mashinya in his founding affidavit.
Court papers show that the Respondents, including the minister were served with papers on February 14th but none filed documents in answer to the allegations contained in the application.
In the court papers Dr Machinya’s attorney, Manyepedza says that if Dr Madigele wanted- “to reconsider shareholding of the company for your own mischievious purposes the matter should be dealt with properly on the law and not to be sneaked in through some power-play that is arbitrary, self serving and illegal.”
Acting on Madigele’s complaint to suspend Machinya’s licence, the acting Director of Health Services Dr. M Ramatsababa, failed to give Machinya an apportunity to reply to the allegations that had been made against him by the Minister. Machinya claimed that Ramatsababa violated the Health Professional Act simply because he accepted the Minister’s version on face value. Alleging that Ramatsababa was “complicit and reckless in the manner he received the query or complaint” against him.
Madigele was accused of serious abuse of office and elected not to respond to the allegations in the court proceedings. The court documents claim the the Minister used his office to direct the Acting Director of Department of Health Services to revoke Machinya’s medical licence in disregard of the Health Professional Act. Neither Madigele nor Ramatsababa denied the allegations.
On February 19 Justice Letsididi ordered that the decision by The Director of Health Sciences dated 31st January should be set aside and that the 1st and 2nd Respondent pay all legal costs of the application. In accordance with the court Order, on 20th February Dr Mashinya applied for a new private practice license however as at the time of going to press, the Ministry has not yet complied with the High Court Order.
Minister Madigele referred all questions to the Director of Health Sciences office’s whose phone rang unanswered on Monday morning when this publication sought to establish why the department had chosen not to oppose the court case and if it meant that all the allegations against the Minister and the deaprtment had been accepted as correct.