Professor Welshman Ncube | The heavy handed response by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to fire the 17 000 striking nurses whose demands for better working conditions and pay are justified is a stark reminder that we are being ruled by trigger happy maniacs for whom the normal rules do not apply. We are seeing classic junta tendencies, whereby they think every problem is solved by the spraying of bullets, no matter the cost.

Zimbabweans’ access to health care is guaranteed in the constitution, Chiwenga and the junta government are better advised to remember this fact. It is also very sad to note that the so called firing of nurses which is illegal anyway was done on the eve of Independence Day. Is this wholescale firing of nurses what we fought for? They cannot run the health sector commando style. The sacking of thousands of nurses has devastating consequences, because it means that hospitals and clinics remain unmanned resulting in patients being the worst affected. It also means the affected nurses face the prospect of unemployment in a country whose unemployment rate is above 90 percent.

As we see it, the only person that should have been fired for these recurring strikes is none other than the Health minister David Parirenyatwa, under whose watch the health sector has dilapidated over the last 13- years. The nurses’ strike is coming on the back of a debilitating doctors’ strike which left a trail of deaths and suffering in the country as the very same junta took its time in arriving at a lasting solution to the crisis.

It is a disgrace that government would exercise such heavy handedness on the striking nurses instead of engaging in respectful dialogue and coming up with long lasting solutions. This shows how little government cares for the needs of its workers.

Victimising the nurses for participating in the strike is the last thing a sober minded government should be doing. These dangerous political games Chiwenga is playing with citizens are ill advised and can only result in more chaos in our public health institutions across the country.

It is clear what needs to be done. The government needs to make quality health care provision a priority and work towards creating improved working conditions which include better remuneration and better equipped hospitals. Only a fundamental change in government’s approach will lead to a breakthrough in the mess they created in the health sector. The people of Zimbabwe including those fired nurses, the suffering and dying patients across the entire country will speak very loud and clearly come voting day and send this military junta back to the barracks where they belong.

Professor Welshman Ncube
MDC Alliance Spokesperson