Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT hospitals have started recruiting nurses to replace the striking health workers, who were fired on Tuesday, as the industrial action enters day five today.
Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) announced the dismissal of the nurses after they refused to go back to work even though their employer had acceded to their demands and availed $17 million.
However, the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina) has said it would take the matter to court, adding that the $17 million being referred to was what the nurses were owed by the Government.
The recruitment follows an order from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, ordering chief executive officers at Government hospitals and provincial medical directors to replace the striking nurses after they refused to go back to work.
The ministry advised the hospitals to recruit a maximum of 30 nurses at central hospitals, 20 at provincial hospitals, 15 at district hospitals, five at rural hospitals and one or two at rural health centres and clinics.
Those on leave have been recalled to work and have been given up to midday today to report for duty.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya yesterday said the institution had started recruiting, with 14 nurses having been hired.
“The hospital is still operating with no nurses although we’ve put in place contingency measures to stabilise the hospital and prevent deaths by employing more and taking others from the security services.
“Unemployed nurses have been trickling in following the call by the Health Services Board (HSB) for applications from qualified unemployed nurses.
We’ve since registered 14 nurses for employment and we’re already processing their papers before they start work,” said Dr Ngwenya.
He, however said the hospital remains open and functional due to contingency measures that have been taken to stabilise operations at the hospital.
Dr Ngwenya also appealed to the nurses to come back to work and care for the sick while their concerns are being attended to.
United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer, Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has written to hospitals instructing them to submit information on health workers who did not join the industrial action on April 16 and those who heeded the minister’s call to resume duty on April 17. “This will facilitate payment of the agreed allowances.
Those who were on official leave, maternity, sick, annual leave and days off are considered to have been on duty and have since been recalled to report for duty.
“Should those on official leave not report for duty by midday on April 20, they will be deemed as being on strike unless they have genuine reason,” reads part of the notice.
Nurses meanwhile, have organised an open air clinic, where they will provide medical services for free in Harare, as part of their protest against the Government.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa conveyed his position on Wednesday through the Presidential spokesman and Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba, saying the $17 million had been reserved for the faithful nurses. —@pamelashumba1