Thu 12 January 2023:
Zimbabwe has implemented a law prohibiting health workers like nurses and physicians from going on protracted strikes and imposing penalties of up to six months in jail for rebellious employees or union leaders, according to the government spokesman.
The clause, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed into law last week but made public on Wednesday, states that because health employees are regarded as an essential service, they may go on strike for up to three days.
Emergency services should continue to be provided by health professionals during a strike, government spokesman Nick Mangwana tweeted.
Frequent and weeks-long strikes by health workers have for years strained Zimbabwe’s public health facilities, which are already in a poor condition due to dilapidated infrastructure and medicine shortages.
Public health workers argue that their salaries — about ZW 361,000 ($100) a month for many — and lack of basic equipment make their jobs untenable. Unemployment is also high in the country, with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), putting the rate at 90 percent.
The Southern African country, which once boasted some of the best public healthcare facilities and personnel in the region, is now struggling with a brain drain as nurses and doctors seek better opportunities elsewhere, mainly in the United Kingdom.
Other countries, such as Zambia and the neighboring South Africa, restrict health workers’ ability to strike but apply lighter penalties instead, such as dismissals, work suspensions, or salary reductions.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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