By Andile Tshuma and Rutendo Ngara
BULAWAYO Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube yesterday castigated peddlers of fake news after scores of people gathered at Mpilo Central Hospital, responding to social media messages that there would be nurses’ recruitment at the institution.
In an interview, Ncube said the issue of fake news had detrimental effects and was negatively affecting the country.
The Minister, who recently spoke against unfair nurses’ recruitment which saw most applicants from the southern region being sidelined, urged people to remain calm as she waited for a response from the health ministry to whom she wrote a letter seeking clarification on the matter.
“I have done my part. I have engaged the top leadership and the health ministry on the matter. I am waiting for the outcome of the engagements. I therefore urge people to remain calm. While we have grievances that hold water, it would not serve us to now start rioting and behaving in a way that is not led by the spirit of Ubuntu. This matter must be addressed through proper engagement channels that we can be assisted and get favourable outcomes.
“Another issue which is becoming a headache is the issue of fake news. Those peddlers of untruthful reports do not realise the gravity of their actions. Imagine someone will come all the way from very faraway places, using hard to come by resources, just because someone decided to be mischievous. Our people are desperate, people have got limited resources and some even borrowed bus fares to come to Bulawayo only to find out that there is nothing. We must never mislead people, let us tell the truth,” she said.
Ncube said the nurse recruitment procedure was unfair as it left out prospective applicants in mostly rural areas with limited access to technology and the internet.
“I must say that there should be a way to bridge this digital gap. However, for now we must ensure that the playing field is level so that all prospective applicants get equal opportunities to apply and be considered. Remember, we have equally deserving prospectives in rural areas who may fail to apply due to the conditions of their existence. It is unfair and it must be addressed,” said Cde Ncube.
Some disgruntled Bulawayo citizens yesterday held a peaceful demonstration at Mpilo Central Hospital in response to unfair recruitment of nurses in Bulawayo and Matabeleland region at large.
This followed fake social messages purporting that the hospital will be recruiting nurses from Matabeleland so that there will be equal representation.
Addressing protesters, one of the organisers, Mr Zolani Dube said the statistics of nurse recruitment in the region is biased to people from other regions.
“We are here because of the nurse recruitment process in Matabeleland. If there are any vacancies in Bulawayo people are recruited from Harare, our people from Matabeleland are still unemployed. The most painful issue is, in Matabeleland we speak about national issues but in Mashonaland we speak about provincial issues. Does that mean devolution is not applicable in Matabeleland only?” said Mr Dube.
Mpilo Central Hospital Clinical Director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the recruitment issue was beyond the control of the hospital as they only acted on instruction.
“It’s beyond our control, it is from the head office. We were not consulted, we were given the list, we did not take part. We used to advertise, accept letters, interview, appoint then we will send names of the successful applicants to Harare. This time they did everything from Harare and sent names to us. We don’t know how they did it, “said Dr Ngwenya.
One of the protesters Simphiwe Sibanda said the message was circulating online that Mpilo will be recruiting nurses yesterday.
“I didn’t know there will be a demonstration but this is a good move because what happened is not fair, we were not given equal opportunities with those from Harare. What we all want here is the reversal of this intake or they start recruiting again,” said Sibanda.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care has since disowned the social media message saying the nursing intake had been frozen.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care has noted with concern the story circulating on social media about e-nursing recruitment. The ministry would like to inform the public that the story is not true and that members of the public should rely on official sources of information,” said the ministry’s public relations manager Mr Donald Mujiri. The Chronicle