By Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Patriotic Front (NPF) spokesperson Jealous Mawarire Wednesday accused Vice President Constantino Chiwenga of attempts to divert striking nurses’ funds to reward military officials who took part in the November ouster of President Robert Mugabe.
Mawarire was among political parties, labour groups and NGOs that roundly condemned Tuesday’s summary sacking of nurses from their positions at state-run hospitals by the VP.
VP Chiwenga, who heads the social services cluster, said the job action by the health staff was politically motivated.
Government had availed $17m in attempts to mitigate the health professionals’ plight, a figure which translated to a $13 salary increment, on average. The increase was rejected by the nurses.
Mawarire said the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander saw an opportunity to reward his former juniors who saw to it he got elevated to VP.
“We are yet to get the full story but there is something very sinister about the dismissals and the new plot to use the $17m initially granted to the nurses to reward soldiers who helped with the Coup,” he told The Zimbabwe Star Wednesday.
PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume described the dismissals as “an unmitigated bout of cruelty from people who probably get 3 times a nurse salary per day when they travel”.
Similarly, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said they were “appalled by the government’s arbitrary decision to dismiss all striking nurses from their positions at state-run hospitals”.
“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,” they said.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou described the dismissals as a nullity, adding, they were “tantamount to madness of the worst order and monumental labour injustice. It is important to note that an employer let alone government cannot push the clock backwards to the Master and Servant Act of the colonial period”.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) also condemned the dismissals “in the strongest terms”.
“Such an approach by the Vice President Rtd. General Chiwenga to the grievances of hardworking nurses, who have been enduring difficult conditions of service for many years now is insensitive and shows disappointing leadership,” ZimRights said.
Government on Wednesday ordered public hospitals to start replacing fired nurses who however remained defiant, threatening to sue their employer to allegedly violating labour rights.