By Michell Zvanyanya
Mpilo Central Hospital nurses yesterday demonstrated against the chief executive officer Mr Leonard Mabandi’s directive for them to start working four-day shifts instead of the two days they agreed on with the Government.
Nurses used to work seven days a week but adopted the two-day weekly shifts due to incapacitation.
The Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina) signed an agreement with the Government last year which gave provision for nurses to work two days of 12-hour shifts per week, which are flexible working hours that were also adopted by staff in other health institutions.
The nurses however said Mr Mabandi issued a circular on Monday last week instructing them to revert to a four-day weekly shift despite their agreement with the Government.
Hospital business came to a standstill as nurses staged a four-hour protest between 8AM and 12pm yesterday.
They stood at the administration block where Mr Mabandi’s office is, chanted slogans against the CEO, who is said to be in Harare.
It was a sea of white as nurses waved placards with messages that read: “No to slavery, Asidli Vaya (we don’t eat Vaya – a reference to $1 transport that the hospital organised for workers to cushion them against $7 charged by kombis).”
In an interview during the demonstration, Zina provincial chairperson, Mr Nicholas Chidora said since last week the nurses were being forced to work for four days.
During the demonstration the nurses accused the CEO along with the Administration department of mismanagement.
“Zina last year agreed with the Government to allow nurses to work for two days of 12-hour shifts. We adopted the working schedule which was agreed by Government during the period when the doctors were on strike.
“However, on Monday last week Mr Mabandi issued a circular instructing nurses to go back to normal duties without even addressing our issues. As nurses we are demonstrating today to send a message that we will not revert to the normal working hours until the institution addresses our grievances as nurses,” said Mr Chidora.
He said nurses were working under very difficult conditions as a result of shortage of resources.
“The hospital is not adequately prepared for any emergencies including coronavirus itself. As nurses we have not undergone training to equip us with adequate knowledge about the virus and how to address it.
“I can tell you that in the event that there is an outbreak of the virus today, the patients will suffer because the institution is not well prepared for it. This is a very infectious environment but we are forced to work without resources to protect ourselves from the infections,” said Mr Chidora.
President Mnangagwa has restricted international travel especially outside Africa, while civil servants have been banned from foreign trips as Government takes measures to minimise the risk of exposure to Covid-19, which is caused by coronavirus.
In Zimbabwe more than 6 000 people have been screened of the virus at ports of entry, mainly Robert Gabriel Mugabe International and Victoria Falls International airports. All 26 ports, eight of which are airports and 18 inland border posts, have screening facilities.
The concern by Mpilo nurses comes at a time when South Africa reported yesterday that it now has seven confirmed cases of coronavirus. According to the Sabc, the four new cases were among the group of people who were travelling from Italy.
In Zimbabwe, the Chinese government has committed to upgrading facilities at Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital which will be used as a centre to quarantine and treat patients in case of an out break in Bulawayo and is doing the same for Wilkins Hospital in Harare.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting CEO Mr Thomas Nyikadzino referred questions to Mr Mabandi who could not be reached on his mobile phone. The Chronicle