THE Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president, Enock Dongo recent actions by government and the ministry of health and child care of forcibly coercing nurses into submission and apologising for demanding a better life was illegal and unwelcome.
By Michael Gwarisa
In a Press Statement, Dongo said government had proved beyond reasonable doubt that they are above law and can break the law intentionally as long as it is in government’s favor.
As ZINA we have been left dismayed by the attitude shown by the government of Zimbabwe towards nurses. The attitude is not only in contempt of court but it is also grossly unjust, with the conduct being to coerce nurses into submission to unlawful directives.
“It is an undeniable fact that the Zimbabwe Nurses Association took government to court twice in the last month. On both occasions, the High Court ruled that nurses were correct and were entitled as a matter of right to continue with the flexible working hour system. Both judgments are a matter of public record under case numbers HC6507/20 and HC7099/20. Having seen that the courts have declared them wrong, it has now become evidently clear that the government sees itself as if it is above the law. This is the only conclusion to be derived from the actions of a government that ignores two clear court orders,” said Dongo.
According to Dongo, despite having been served two court judgments in favour of the nurses, they have had their decency, dignity and livelihood taken away from them by being asked to apologise for being correct and taking government to court or risk not being paid their December salaries in addition to the November salaries which have been withheld until now.
“This happened at Harare hospital on Monday the 7th of November 2020 and currently, nurses at United Bulawayo Hospital are being asked to write apology letters. All this is being done because government can simply ignore a court order if it wants.
“State media on its part, instead of reporting the true outcome of the court cases, has been referring to nurses as “defiant” whilst calling ZINA “misleading”. All this has no factual or legal basis and amounts to misleading the nation on the true state of affairs regards the dispute between nurses and government. What they omit to state is that before taking government to court and even after both judgments came out, we have written to government to meet so that we can resolve this issue amicably but on all occassions we have not even received the courtesy of a response.”
He added that once the full facts are followed, the truth of the matter is that it is government which should be apologising to nurses for acting in a manner which the court said was incorrect.
“It is government as well which should stop acting in contempt of court judgments and allow nurses to work flexible hours. Lastly, it is government which should pay nurses their salaries as ordered by the court rather than put its own conditions on things.
“Even if government does not respect our profession, it must at least respect the courts. As ZINA we have an ethical and professional obligation to protect the rights of nurses and no amount of misrepresentations will make us shy away from demanding rights which the Constitution has given us.”