Zimbabwe nurses go back to work as government refuses to back down


Zimbabwe’s striking nurses have decided to go back to work tomorrow after the government refused to bow down to their demands but will pursue their High Court case in which they are seeking to bar the government from firing them and hiring new recruits.

Nurses who went on strike on Monday last week were summarily dismissed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga on Tuesday.

Chiwenga said the job action was political but one observer says this could be the modus operandi of the new administration.

Initial reports said 16 000 nurses had been fired but the Sunday Mail today said only 5 093 were issued dismissal letters.

The paper said the initial figure was inflated for political reasons as the country has a total establishment of 16 974 nurses.

The Zimbabwe Nurses Association said it was calling off the strike because the nurses’ “cause of collective job action has been highly politicised”.

“This has portrayed us in bad light. To pave way for re-opening of negotiations and protection of our workers we have decided to call off the industrial action,” ZiNA was quoted by the Standard as saying.

 Standard columnist Tawanda Majoni said that while Chiwenga’s action had been widely condemned with some arguing that labour issues do not require military solutions, “this is a new tactic of political governance in town whereby the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration will be invoking the spectre of militarism and sanitising it with a semblance of adherence to the rule of law and get the results that it wants in the process”.

Majoni argues: “Here is the new administration’s scheme of things, pretty like what we have seen in post-genocide Rwanda, which has remained a darling of most of the international community despite its strong-arm style of governance.

“The new administration seems to have seen through the gathering storm of industrial action. The nurses went on strike after the doctors and teachers and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions are planning the same.

“They have to make their hay while the sun shines. Neglecting putting the new administration under pressure now is a big risk. After the elections, regardless of whether ZANU-PF or Nelson Chamisa’s MDC wins, whoever is in power will forget them. That’s what politicians always do.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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