Paidamoyo Chipunza and Sibongile Maruta, Harare Bureau
Government has served nurses who disregarded its exhortation to return to work on Tuesday with dismissal letters, Health and Child Care permanent secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji has said.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau yesterday, Dr Gwinji said a number of the affected nurses were applying to rejoin the public health sector.
“We are also quite aware that as of today, many of those who participated in the industrial action turned up at their old workplaces inquiring as to how they can be taken back into the system.
“We are saying there are processes and procedures to that. They were served with their letters of dismissal but they can reapply,” said Dr Gwinji.
He said those applying for recruitment would be assessed for their commitment to serve.
“In that re-application, naturally there is going to be re-vetting of suitable and unsuitable cadres not only in terms of professional qualifications, but in terms of suitability to serve in the public sector considering what has been happening,” he said.
Dr Gwinji said institutions had also been directed to start the recruitment process on a first-come, first-served basis.
He appealed to those handling the administrative work to speed up the process to allow nurses to start their duties immediately.
Dr Gwinji said there were hiccups in the recruitment process on Thursday as officials were unsure of how to handle the applications.
“Quite a number (of nurses) have turned up at various institutions and we clarified the issue this morning (Friday) for them to go ahead and recruit,” said Dr Gwinji.
He said Government would continue recruiting until it filled all vacant posts.
“These nurses are already trained and qualified as far as we are concerned, but we know some of them might not have been practising, so they will undergo some orientation.
“However, many of them have been practising in the private sector, some on a part-time basis, but also others on a full-time basis and might want to come back to the public sector,” he said.
Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (ZINA) secretary-general Mr Enock Dongo confirmed that some of their members had received dismissal letters.
“We are not yet sure of Government’s position because some of our members have received the dismissal letters but in some provinces, they have withdrawn the same,” he said.
Meanwhile, the fired nurses yesterday tried to conduct free health check-ups in Harare’s Africa Unity Square as part of a publicity stunt, but the response from the public was poor.
The gathering, which began at 1PM, dispersed soon after lunch.
Speaking to our Harare Bureau on condition of anonymity, one of the nurses appealed to Government to reconsider its decision.
“We are committed to our work and we still want to go back to work. We hope Government will reconsider its decision and allow us to go back to work because we care for our patients,” she said.
Nurses downed tools on Monday demanding a review of their remuneration and working conditions, but refused to take heed of Government’s call to return to work after they were given a commitment that authorities would attend to their grievances.
Before the dismissal, Government had availed US$17,1 million to cover the health workers’ allowances.