By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Health minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga says there is no quick fix to nurses’ grievances and urged them to return to work after about two months striking.
Addressing farmers at the launch of the Climate-Proofed Presidential-Inputs Programme at Nyabvuti Farm in Guruve Thursday, Chiwenga said health workers must return to work and save lives while the government is addressing their concerns.
But Chiwenga said the challenges nurses are facing “have been accumulating over a long period and will also take a little bit of time to be addressed.”
“We are working hard to improve our health delivery system at ward, village, district, province up to referral institutions. We are strengthening our system so that people can access medication easily.
“Our health workers are on strike. We are encouraging them to return to work so that we can save lives. While we are aware of their grievances, they should also consider saving lives.
“We are not blind to your issues. We are working hard to assist but you should also consider the lives of patients,” Chiwenga said.
Chiwenga added, “While we are addressing your grievances, we cannot expect a solution overnight. These challenges have been accumulating over a long period and will also take a little bit of time to be addressed. We are one family, one people and we need to unite and help each other.
“We have launched the Pfumvudza programme, which is aimed at boosting agricultural productivity. But people cannot work if they are not in good health,” he said.
“We are fighting an invisible enemy. This disease does not discriminate. The best is for us to protect ourselves through social distancing, sanitising hands and also seeking medical attention early if we fall sick,” Chiwenga added.
Chiwenga in 2018 bizarrely fired 16 000 striking nurses who were protesting for a pay hike and favourable working conditions.
Zimbabwe’s doctors and nurses went on strike in June. They are demanding salaries in foreign currency citing the collapse of the reintroduced currency.
After a decade of dollarisation, Zimbabwe last year reintroduced its currency but it has been losing value rapidly against major currencies.
According to the Trading Economics, “the annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe quickened to 837.5 percent in July of 2020 from 737.3 percent in the prior month, as the coronavirus pandemic aggravated the country’s pre-existing issues including shortages of food and fuel and a collapsing currency.”