ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) notes with extreme concern some social media statements issued by a government representative labelling some medical practitioners as medical assassins.
In a message posted on Twitter, Nick Mangwana, the Permanent Secretary
in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services
boldly claimed that some unidentified medical practitioners were
medical assassins, who were weaponising the outbreak of Coronavirus
(COVID-19) to ill-treat and target certain politicians within their
It is unfortunate and regrettable that we have high ranking government
officials who are making such bold statements on unverified and
ZLHR finds this allegation absurd and unwarranted at a critical time
when all medical practitioners and ordinary citizens are giving their
all in seeking to curb the spread of coronavirus which is claiming the
precious lives of people. Such statements are also very dangerous and
may lead to certain sections of society shunning medical treatment
should they be infected by COVID-19.
It is shocking that while medical practitioners are being celebrated
the world over during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as they
battle to save people from one of the most infectious viral attacks in
recent years, Zimbabwean authorities seem to frown at their valuable
efforts and contributions.
It is unfortunate that this is not the first time that medical
practitioners have been accused by government officials of committing
such misdemeanours as in recent years and months authorities have
summarily dismissed doctors and nurses from employment after accusing
them of being influenced by political motives in protesting against
poor remuneration and working conditions.
Of note is that our medical practitioners are risking their lives by
caring for patients suffering from COVID-19 without provision of
adequate personal protective equipment and other safety measures in
their workplaces and this has not deterred them to sacrifice a lot for
ZLHR is worried that government is defying observations and
recommendations by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
(ACHPR) which in Resolution 443 on the Human Rights Situation in the
Republic of Zimbabwe following its meeting during the 66th Ordinary
session released in August 2020 expressed concern on medical
practitioners, who were arrested for demanding improved salaries and
working conditions. The ACHPR also urged the government to protect the
rights of medical practitioners and address their concerns for better
wages and working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ZLHR reminds government of the need to guarantee protection of the
rights of medical practitioners and demands that authorities address
their concerns in line with the Resolution of the ACHPR.
ZLHR urges government to treat and protect the country’s remaining
healthcare personnel with dignity as this is our most valuable assets
on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.