NURSES at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital (formerly Harare Central Hospital) who participated in a job action over the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in June 2020 and another one early this year, have raised a red flag over the continued harassment at the hands of the hospital’s management, HealthTimes has learnt.
By Michael Gwarisa
Nurses from the institution who spoke this publication said the working environment had become toxic as fear and uncertainty had gripped most nurses at the institution and they were being subjected to countless warnings and hearings as a move to instill fear and ensure the workers genuflect to the hospital’s new modus operandi of using intimidation tactics.
If you remember some of the nurses who came out speaking in the media early this year when our Matron died here, some of them have since resigned. The nurse who spoke in that video was pursued and questioned countless times on why she had spoken to the media until she resigned. She could not take it anymore. It seems the victimization is targeting outspoken members of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) in a bid to stop us from voicing our concerns,” said one nurse who requested anonymity.
Other top executives and members of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) who were vocal in pushing for salary increments and better living and working standards for nurses have also resigned since beginning of the year citing victimization as the major push factor. The ZINA president, Mr Enoch Dongo has since resigned from Sally Mugabe Hospital even though details leading to his resignation are still sketchy.
Mr Samson Gurupira who was a top ZINA executive and organizing secretary at Sally Mugabe Hospital resigned from the institution early this year following what he terms a series of attacks and victimization from management in connivance with the Health Service Board (HSB).
“I resigned early this year and before I resigned, i had become a subject of victimization with two other nurses. I had to move fast before they made thing worse for me. When I took my oath and vowed to serve my profession well, I never would have imagined experiencing such inhumane treatment like I have experienced in the last couple of years
“The conditions that was created by my superiors had become so unbearable. I was arrested last year in June and spent a night in the police cells for allegedly leading a demonstration against poor salaries and wages, and lack of personal protective equipment. This arrest was caused by my employer. I was served with three different charges and a suspension letter,” said Gurupira.
He added that he had been charged on other occasions and despite him having shown willingness to resolve the issues amicably and have his name cleared, the employer ignored his plea.
“The initial hearing was postponed and when I pushed, the charges were amended until the employer lost interest in pursuing them. I already knew that the charges were meant to frustrate me and never intended to be pursued to their logical conclusion. This notwithstanding, I held on to a thin vein of hope that the victimization would stop. However, things only got worse.”
Towards the end of 2020, nurses at Sally Mugabe Hospital were made to write apology letters as well as apologize physically to the then acting minister of health and child care, Professor Amon Murwira after government had struck at least 500 of nurses from the institution off the payroll for failure to adhere to a government directive to cancel flexi-hours.
However, in response to the victimization allegations, Sally Mugabe Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Christopher Pasi said the victimization accusations being leveled against the institution’s management were falsehoods and fabrications by excitable individuals who have failed to uphold the code of conduct and ethics of the nursing and medical profession.
“Every profession has a code of ethics. However, these people become excitable especially when they see the Press and then they start saying a lot of things which will be totally untrue. So when you then ask them to come in and explain and prove the allegations they would have paraded in the Press, they rush to say they have been victimized and they rush to tender resignations. This is the issue. There was one of them who came out in the press and it went viral all the world. She came out saying the National Reference Laboratory at the Sally Mugabe was falsifying COVID-19 results.
“The National Reference Lab is the premier Lab for COVID-19 testing in Zimbabwe. Now just imagine what the damage to the country and the harm such falsehood might have done to the institution. We asked that lady to come and explain and prove to us her allegations and she said we were victimizing her. Would you really call that victimization? That is not victimization. I think at times it is just insubordination, they just don’t want to be asked to account for their actions,” said Dr Pasi.
He added there has been a deliberate onslaught on the institution’s image by individuals and they create falsehoods just to paint management in bad light. He also said the institution has been extending invitations to the nurses to come and dialogue and probably find a lasting solution to the perennial squabbles, an offer they have been willing to take up.
Commenting on the resignations, Dr Pasi said the issue of brain drain has not spared any sector in Zimbabwe and the medical and nursing profession and Sally Mugabe Hospital has not been spared.