Zanu PF accuses nurses of pandering to Chamisa’s MDC

Police arrested striking nurses and drove them to file charges at Harare Central Police in July 2020

THE ruling Zanu PF party has accused nurses of working with the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance, saying their tendency to go on strike from time to time was meant to distabilise President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

Nurses affiliated to the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) have since 2018 engaged in sporadic job actions to demand better salaries and working conditions.

Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said nurses appeared to have a broader opposition agenda to destabilise government.

He said the politburo on Wednesday saluted a handful of nurses at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital (formerly Harare Central) and those from Bulawayo, who apologised to government for defying orders to discontinue flexi hours and return to a 40-hour working week.

“We also took note as politburo of the positive gesture by nurses at Sally Mugabe Hospital who bravely broke ranks with the opposition-aligned Zina and returned to work,” Chinamasa said.

“That is the kind of patriotism we want to see from civil servants.”

Last week, Sally Mugabe Hospital nurses reportedly apologised to the then acting Health minister Amon Murwira at a meeting held at the institution.

The rest of the nurses across the country, however, rejected the government order, refusing to report for work and sued Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, who suffered an embarrassing defeat at the courts.

Government responded by removing the nurses from the payroll.

Chiwenga has been using military tactics on nurses and doctors to strike fear and instil discipline among the health workers.

In July, government deployed soldiers and the police to stop nurses from protesting. Government also removed many of the nurses from the payroll and in September, introduced stringent measures to stop health workers to get clearance certificates to seek greener pastures. It is also trying to force trainee doctors to work under the military.

Chinamasa’s remarks irked the nurses who in turn blasted Zanu PF for using terror tactics to silence them from pushing for a living wage.

Zina president Enoch Dongo said it was shameful for Zanu PF to use threats and lies to silence nurses. He claimed that those nurses who apologised were arm-twisted in a desperate bid to destabilise the association.

“That is cheap politics. We are there for the welfare of nurses and that has nothing to do with politics. Ours is a labour issue and not politics,” he said.

Dongo accused individuals of wanting to politicise their labour dispute with the government for selfish ends.

“Clearly, the statement by Chinamasa is misleading. Why has it ended up to that level? The issue with government spilled into the courts and we have two judgments in our favour. Does that mean the High Court is also working with the opposition?” he queried.

Dongo said nurses maintained that they were incapacitated to go to work and also would not want to congest workplaces because of COVID-19.

Zina last month took government to court twice and on both occasions, the High Court ruled that nurses were right and were entitled to continue with the flexible working-hour system.

Dongo said the government was the one which was supposed to apologise to the nurses for acting in a manner which the court said was “incorrect”. – NewsDay ■