Cheeky Zim Blood Bank Punishes Donor

Harare, December 16, 2014 – Zimbabwe’s blood bank has vindictively reprimanded one of its long serving blood donors by refusing to honour him among the country’s top blood givers.

The National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) recently punished Emmanuel Masvikeni, its former employee by refusing to publicly honour him among other Zimbabweans for donating blood for the 50th time.

Masvikeni, who was employed as procurement manager at NBSZ has been one of the organisation’s long serving blood donor and has donated at least 50 times, a feat which warrants him an award for his continued dedication to boost Zimbabwe’s blood bank.

At milestone donations, NBSZ blood donors are given some tokens of appreciation for their commitment. According to NBSZ, these tokens are of non-monetary value but have a sentimental value to blood donors. They also serve to appreciate their commitment and to motivate them. Peer promoters receive a T-shirt, a badge on induction and then a certificate on exit while Pledge 25 club members receive a shield and a certificate on the 25th and 50th donation at the annual blood donation awards ceremony.

But the outspoken Masvikeni failed to attend the NBSZ awards ceremony held towards the end of the year after the organisation took issue with him for refusing to offer an apology to the NBSZ for an “unfortunate behaviour” he allegedly caused at the blood bank’s annual general meeting (AGM) held two years ago.

The NBSZ communicated its decision not to honour Masvikeni through a letter written by Retired High Court Judge Justice Leslie Smith, the organisation’s board chairperson who said the NBSZ could not honour him among other outstanding blood donors for committing some offences against it.

“I am advised that you are a recipient of the above mentioned award (50th blood donation award). On behalf of the service, I wish to congratulate your continued altruism in contributing to the saving of lives through blood donations. Unfortunately at the 2012 AGM and Award ceremony your unfortunate behaviour caused disruptions to proceedings resulting in your arrest. To date no apology for this incident has been received. We also have cases pending before the courts in which you are pitted against NBSZ. For these reasons, it is inappropriate to give you this award at such a ceremony,” reads part of Smith’s letter.

Smith said arrangements will be made where Masvikeni will be given his award “at the appropriate time and place”.

Masvikeni, a vocal blood donor was arrested two years ago and charged for “disorderly conduct” after he allegedly mobilised some blood donors on the eve of the AGM to protest against attempts by the NBSZ to disenfranchise donors by not properly informing them of the crucial meeting and had highlighted some irregularities including alleged acts of corruption, criminal abuse of office, fraud and maladministration at the organisation. The vocal blood donor was later released after paying a $20 admission of guilty fine.

In February last year, Masvikeni was arrested and accused of defaming Smith through sending emails to some of the organisation’s partners. The long serving NBSZ former employee is currently locked in a labour dispute with the organisation which he is suing in the Labour Court for breaching his employment contract. Three years ago, Masvikeni accused the NBSZ board of allegedly supplying untested blood to hospitals, thereby compromising recipients’ lives, a charge which the NBSZ disputed saying all their received blood goes through thorough testing before it is dispatched to people.

In response to Smith’s letter, Masvikeni said he felt insulted by the NBSZ board chairperson.

“With all due respect, I however, find your letter very insulting at the least, and very provocative at the worst. It appears to me that you are very quick to forget, or perhaps it is for expediency that a whole being like yourself, a Board Chairman and retired High Court Judge for that matter, stoops so low to the extent of penning a letter that is discriminatory and clearly shows your failure to apply your mind and indeed your inability to distinguish blood donation issues from a labour dispute; you missed the forest for the trees Mr Smith sir,” Masvikeni said in his letter.

He charged that the NBSZ’s propensity to focus on him whilst the organisation is “hemorrhaging” will not solve its financial, blood adequacy and safety woes.

“NBSZ is in a crisis never witnessed before and requires leaders of great aptitude who are focused on steering the ship to steady waters. As evidenced by the various incidents wherein you have ended with egg in your face, emotions will only worsen your plight. It is breath taking that on several occasions you have led NBSZ through the garden path as far as the Masvikeni saga is concerned. I hope against hope that your continued fixation on Masvikeni, a mere blood donor is not a reflection of the NBSZ board as a collective. The sooner you prioritise the survival of NBSZ, the better for all stakeholders including staff whose morale is at an all-time low. I find it very hilarious, and at the same time preposterous that you expect an apology from me after you barred me from attending an AGM and also getting me arrested. My foot! For the record I have no apology to make to anybody. If you still believe that I should apologize, it is my considered view that you are hallucinating, and I can only wish you a speedy recovery. Your request for an apology is very telling and only serves to highlight the cavalier attitude that you and NBSZ management have towards myself and likeminded blood donors,” reads part of Masvikeni’s response to Smith.

Stock levels at Zimbabwe’s blood bank usually drop to critical levels during holidays and the festive season. The shortage of blood is only one in a long list of shortages of basic survival commodities among them, essential medical drugs that are priced out of reach for ordinary citizens.