New Zimbabwe.com

Fired nurses withdraw court challenge as many rehired by government

FIRED striking nurses from state run hospitals on Thursday withdrew their urgent chamber application challenging their dismissal.

The Zimbabwe Nurses Association filed a notice of withdrawal with the Registrar of the High Court saying they no longer wanted to proceed with legal action.

They were represented by Precious Chakasikwa and Bernard Chidziva of Kantor and Immerman Legal Practitioners.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the decision was reached following a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association and the government Wednesday.

“Be pleased to take notice that the applicants hereby withdraw their urgent chamber application for an interdict,” reads part of the notice of withdrawal filed.

The urgent chamber application, which had been set down for hearing Thursday before Justice Amy Tsunga, had been filed on 20 April.

The nurses were seeking an order barring the Health Services Board, Minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga from terminating their contracts of employment and stop them from recruiting new staff to replace them.

They argued that their purported summary dismissal was not justified as they had engaged in strike action legally and were exercising their labour rights.

The government, through Chiwenga in his capacity as the leader of the social services cluster, fired about 16 000 striking public hospital nurses with immediate effect and ordered the immediate recruitment of unemployed graduates and retired nurses to replace them.

Chiwenga accused the nurses of continuing with the crippling job action despite the government releasing funds to pay their allowances in line with a deal reached on April 17, saying the job action was politically motivated.

The nurses had gone on strike almost two weeks ago to force the government to look into their welfare.

The government has, however, since rehired most of the nurses after they wrote letters seeking re-admission.

This followed widespread condemnation of Chiwenga’s actions by human rights groups, workers’ representatives and opposition political parties, who accused the Retired Army General of using military tactics to deal with civic issues.