BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) have accused the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) of sabotaging public health institutions after it recommended nurses to work for two days per week, citing incapacitation.
This emerged during a question and answer session on Thursday at UBH between Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health chairperson, Ruth Labode, Hwange Central legislator Daniel Molokela and UBH chief executive Nonhlanhla Ndlovu on the state of affairs at the hospital.
Ndlovu said Zina had disrupted workflow at the hospital after the association recently ordered a two-day working week for nurses.
“Zina only instructed the nurses to work two days a week, so one day they work during the day and the other day is night duty. I understand that the Zina president has been engaging in talks with the Health minister (Obadiah Moyo),” Ndlovu said.
“This started during the doctors’ strike and there was much pressure as nurses threatened to withdraw services. Because of the pressure at the Health Services Board, I think it was allowed to happen, but it was never condoned nor was there a letter from the employer to approve this.”
Ndlovu said Health permanent secretary Agnes Mahomva was going to write a letter that would then normalise the situation for nurses to go back to the three to four-day working week that government had approved.
Molokela condemned the whole saga, saying the Zina leadership had taken advantage of the situation.
“I think Zina has good leadership; they took advantage of the situation that there was a strike and so they negotiated from a point of strength. The biggest losers in a situation like this are the poor (citizens) and we as Members of Parliament find it shocking how a trade union can have such an influence on the hospital,” Molokela said.
Ndlovu said if nurses were forced to do the work, they would stage demonstrations.
“They tried to stop it and there was a demonstration at Mpilo, the same happened at Gweru Provincial Hospital, they will demonstrate and still do duties that they want to do; something just needs to happen and it’s bigger than institutions,” Ndlovu said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zina president Enock Dongo said the parliamentarians should be thankful to Zina for keeping the hospitals opened.
“At first, we had a meeting with the government and we agreed on a three-day shift, but we, however, agreed that this would be reviewed. Nurses are getting ZWL$100 and it’s not cash it’s Real Time Gross Settlement for transport allowances for a month, but some are using ZWL$80 a day. Imagine you first having to convert that money to cash and you might end up getting ZWL$50 only which is transport for one day,” Dongo said.
“In other words, we are actually subsidising the government. We agreed with government that we can go back to five days a week when they give us money equivalent to that we were getting in 2018. The government wants to keep the hospitals open, but they have no money.”