THE decision by Vice President, Retired General Constantine Chiwenga to fire all striking nurses is not only irresponsible but dangerous to Zimbabwe’s health sector, top human health right organisations have said.
By Michael Gwarisa
In a joint Press statement by the Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR),they condemned the recent action taken by VP Chiwenga saying it will have a negative bearing on the welfare of people who have now been left at the mercy of inexperienced nurses and spent forces.
“ZIMBABWE Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) are appalled by the government’s arbitrary decision to dismiss all striking nurses from their positions at state-run hospitals.
“ZADHR and ZLHR condemn this dangerous and irresponsible response by the government as illogical and that it will have serious consequences on the welfare of people, who have been condemned to be attended to by some inexperienced and or retired nurses,” they said.
Government on Tuesday 17 April 2018, the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence fired nurses employed at state-run hospitals, who had been on a work boycott protesting against poor salaries and unfavourable working conditions.
VP Chiwenga, who heads the social services cluster however announced that government would replace the dismissed nurses with some retired and unemployed qualified nurses and accused the striking health practitioners of being influenced by political motives in staging their protest.
“The summary dismissal of the nurses is in contravention of constitutionally guaranteed rights particularly section 65 of the Constitution, which guarantees express labour rights to every person except for members of the security services.
“ZADHR and ZLHR would like to draw the government’s attention to section 65(3)&(4) of the Constitution which states that “every employee has the right to ZIMBABWE ASSOCIATION OF
DOCTORS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS participate in collective job action, including the right to strike, sit in, withdraw their labour and to take other similar concerted action” and “every employee is entitled to just, equitable and satisfactory conditions of work.”
They added that government should appreciate that this fundamental provision which came into force in 2013 means that for the first time in the history of labour relations in Zimbabwe, the right to fair labour standards and practices has become enshrined in the Declaration of Rights as a basic human right.
“Further, the summary dismissal by the Vice President contravenes section 68 of the Constitution that guarantees the right of every person to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.
“Government has been reluctant in responding to the legitimate concerns raised by nurses and has over the years not fully addressed the serious consequences brought about by the unprecedented exodus of health practitioners in search of greener pastures due to the same concerns which are being raised by nurses now,” said ZLHR/ZADHR.
They added that government has a responsibility to ensure that citizens’ rights to health care is not compromised and should immediately implement measures to resolve the situation at state-run hospitals.
Meanwhile, ZADHR and ZLHR have called on government to urgently revoke the dismissal of the nurses and ordered their reinstatement to their positions and urgently respond to the concerns raised by the health practitioners.