The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) and the Senior Hospital Doctors Association have welcomed the appointment of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as the Minister of Health and Child Care.
In a statement, the nurses association expressed optimism that the appointment of Chiwenga together with Air Commodore Jasper Chimedza as the substantive health ministry permanent secretary will turn around fortunes in the troubled sector.
“As ZINA, we welcome the appointees to the position of substantive Minister of Health and Child Care as well as Permanent Secretary for the same Ministry. It is our hope that the two appointees have been briefed on the situation prevailing in the Health sector and what has led to the impasse between health workers and their employer,” read the statement.
The Association whose members are on day 48 of industrial action expect the new Minister to address the on-going wage gridlock with their employer up until then, they can be able to return to work.
“Our reasonable demands are in the public domain. We look forward to being engaged on these basis of mutual respect, where our constitutional and labour rights to a fair wage and not to work in unsafe conditions are respected. Further, we look forward to having our demands acknowledged and met. As we have indicated before, we are unable to return back to work until this has been done.” read the statement.
ZINA said considering the urgency of the situation they expect an urgent intervention to resolve the impasse.
Dr. Shingai Nyaguse from the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association also welcomed the appointment of Chiwenga and Chimedza saying they hope the two will help in bringing stability to the sector.
“We welcome the appointment of a substantive Health Minister and Permanent Secretary hopefully they can hit the ground running and appreciate what has brought our systems to its knees like this” said Dr. Nyaguse
The appointment of the two comes at a time when the country is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with an industrial action that has seen health care workers going for 48 days without reporting for duty.
Ironically, in 2018 Chiwenga in his capacity as supervisor of government’s social services cluster, fired fall nurses at public hospitals who had downed tools over a pay rise, a decision government later reversed.