Govt forced to rehire fired and retired nurses; union says move clear admission ‘things not well in the health sector’

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent

GOVERNMENT extended its waiver on re-appointment of health workers who retired or were fired for various misdemeanors to March 31, 2023 from September 30 this year, documents in’s possession have revealed.

The extension is in response to continued shortages in public hospitals and clinics caused by an exodus of health workers fleeing poor working conditions and poor remuneration to better paying countries in Europe, Namibia and America especially.

Nurses in Zimbabwe earn less than US$100 per month in comparison to US$1,472 in Namibia, US$1,887 in South Africa and US$3,472 in the United Kingdom.

“It is noted that the Board extended the waiver of reappointment for former health workers who need to re-join the service to Central Hospitals and Provincial Medical Directors for a period of six months from 01 April 2022 to 30 September 2022,” reads a letter signed by Health Services Board acting executive director, Angelbert Mbengwa.

“Please be advised that the waiver has been extended for a further period of six months from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023 to facilitate urgent appointments to fill vacant posts in institutions.


“However, the reappointment of the following categories shall be centralized at the Board; all former nurses applying to re-join the service, members who were discharged from the service on grounds of misconduct, convicted of criminal offence or terminated through medical grounds.”

Mbengwa continued; “In view of the above, Central Hospitals and Provincial Medical Directors shall continue approving applications for reappointment of the other grades as communicated before. Institutions should thus submit the applications for the above two categories to the Board.

Vice president and health minister Constantino Chiwenga

“The General Manager, Salary Service Bureau is therefore being instructed to accept reappointments authorised at stations in line with the above framework.”

Attempts to stifle nurses and doctors’ flight by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles up as Health Minister have been in vain, with his decision to stop issuance of verification documents, necessary for them to be employed outside the country, having been challenged.

Chiwenga went as far as pushing the Health Services Bill to bar health workers from going on industrial action, further worsening the volatile situation.

Government later revealed it was engaging the United Nations (UN) to recoup expenses it incurred in training nurses and doctors that have ‘fled.’

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president Enock Dongo said the extension was government’s admission that things were not well in the health sector.

“This is a clear admission on the part of government that things are not well in the health sector,” said Dongo.

“A lot of health workers have left for greener pastures and the private sector, leaving gaps that have not been filled. Government’s call is very serious and we support the return of those who are eligible so as to give service to the public, the most affected by current shortages.”

Dongo said the government’s initiative will be in vain if matters that led them to leaving and others opting to work out of the country are not addressed.

He added: “These professionals have not just left services for no apparent reason; they left because of poor working conditions, poor remuneration, intimidation by the state and a general lack of dialogue between the employer and employee.

“These have to be addressed, otherwise these re-appointments will be premature. If government fails to do so then they will either look at their colleagues who are still employed and opt not to join or join and leave again.”