No Government official has offered a resignation so far, after the devastating fire that killed 14 patients and injured 12 people in the improvised Covid hospital in Tetovo. So far only a co-manager of the hospital, Artan Etemi, who originally warned about issues with the construction of the hospital, announced that he will resign.
Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev toured the site of the tragedy yesterday, but avoided the press and the public. Until today afternoon, both are communicating with the public only through press releases and social media comments, avoiding any discussion about the blame.
The tragedy is the latest in a number of incidents that involved negligence, and corruption scandals. The year began with a devastating fire in the Global shopping mall in Strumica, built under Zaev’s term as Mayor, for which he faced a corruption investigation but was quickly pardoned by then President Crvenkovski. Zaev insisted that the shopping mall, operated by his close business partners, had firefighting systems, but they were not operational at the time.
Major forest fires erupted over the summer, when the public was informed that the three modern firefighting planes, purchased by the previous administration, were left inoperable in Zaev’s term, leaving Macedonia defenseless. Instead of nipping fires in the bud using the planes, in several instances villages, and even the city of Kocani were put in serious danger. The Government responded to calls for accountability by using its propaganda teams to allege, without evidence, that the fires were planted for political gain.
Currently the Government is promising full investigation, but Filipce’s Healthcare Ministry already came out forcefully insisting that the modular hospital, built under a crony contract with a company owned by Zaev’s former Deputy Prime Minister Koco Angusev, was built well and was safe.
A possible reason for the fire, according to witness testimonies, is the use of a high voltage device – a defibrillator, which caused sparks in an electric socket.
The Zaev regime has a tendency to assign low level fall guys for major scandals. After recent revelations that the Interior Ministry handed out over 200 passports to international drug lords, mobsters and hitmen, a quick trial was organized in which mere clerks were charged and quickly sentenced, without expanding the investigation into their superiors, let along the Interior Minister of the Prime Minister. Last week, when it was revealed that three Macedonian diplomats were engaged in the extraction of the brother of the former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan from Yerevan, the Interior Minister blamed his predecessor Nake Culev, who briefly held a technical role in the Ministry, long after the scandal occurred. And Zaev still defends the actions of prison authorities who allowed mobster Zoran Mileski – Zoki Kiceec to leave prison, even after Kiceec caused a car crash in which he killed the young father of two – Kiceec’s testimony helped cut short the major Racket trial before the investigation could get close to Zaev.