President’s spokesman defends controversial Health Services Act

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By Anna Chibamu

PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson, George Charamba has jumped to defend the new Health Services Ammendment Act which blocks public health workers from striking saying the law was made to protect citizens.

Charamba said the opposition should shut up because they are not governors of Zimbabwe.

The Health Services Amendment Act signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this week has been widely criticized with many claiming it was oppressive.

In an interview with on Wednesday, Charamba  said what matters most are the beneficiaries of the laws and not those who craft them.

“When a law is pronounced, it is done to improve the sector,” said Charamba.

He added, “The opposition are not governors.

“What matters most are those who benefit from any laws that are formed by the government and passed by Parliament.”

Parliamentary portfolio committee on Health chairperson, Ruth Labode, said the lives of citizens will now be at stake.

“I do not see anything improving on the part of the citizens.

“The health delivery system will worsen. Workers too are not going to be spared.

“They need better conditions of service and failure to have that as a sector means we are back to zero,” said Labode.

Former Health Minister Henry Madzorera, had this to say: “The problem with this new Act is that it is one-sided…they are going to extremes.

“They are not considering the plight of health care workers. Their threats on embarking on an industrial action have been moderating the government, forcing them to look at the conditions of service for the health care workers.

“Yes, from the point of view of their earnings and conditions of service, but also from the point of view of the total healthcare delivery itself, the healthcare is going to suffer more now with the new law that has come into place because the workers can no longer hold government effectively to account for things like the ceiling falling over patients at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

“Health care workers can no longer complain about water dripping into wards from the ceiling and shortages of consumables such as medication and the deterioration of health care services in Zimbabwe.

“That is a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Madzorera also said this will cause a huge brain-drain.

“Health care workers’ conditions are very difficult. The government no longer has anyone pressuring them to improve on the patients’ situation. The health care will continue to deteriorate. It is really bad and we hope the government will review that,” Madzorera said.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) secretary general, Matara expressed sadness over the new Act.

“As ZADHR, we are saddened to learn that this draconian Health Services Amendment Bill has actually been signed to become a law in the country.

“This is a Bill that was widely rejected by all health professionals from nurses to doctors and everyone else in the health sector. Civilians rejected the Bill during Parliamentary public consultations,” he said.

“And now to see the Bill being passed into law, without it being redrafted, it befits the purpose of having consultations if recommendations are ignored by the Health Minister.

“The Act will bring more negatives than positives,” Matara highlighted.