Nurses at Edith Opperman council clinic in Mbare yesterday downed their tools to protest the non-payment of salaries for the past three months, NewsDay has established.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Scores of patients who had come to seek treatment and consultations for various ailments were dumfounded when nurses refused to attend to them and later told them to go away.
However, the seriously ill and a few pregnant women stayed put until around lunchtime hoping the situation would be resolved before the end of day.
“When we came in the morning no one attended to us and when we asked they told us that they were not working because they had not received their salaries,” said one heavily-pregnant woman.
An old woman who could hardly stand said she had been sleeping on the hard concrete benches since morning.
“I am hungry and tired and in a lot of pain, but what can I do? Maybe someone will eventually assist me,” she said.
There was also a group of rape victims who had been referred by the court for medical examinations.
One of the relatives was clearly upset and kept demanding to be assisted.
When the NewsDay crew arrived, the nurses were gathered in a small room being addressed by senior officials.
Raised voices could be heard as the nurses poured out their grievances to the delegation.
A student nurse who refused to be named for fear of victimisation said some of the grievances included the payment of the Health Transition Fund allowances which has always been a hot subject.
The $430 million fund was introduced in 2011 to, among other things, pay incentives to midwives, but some senior government officials were benefiting at the expense of the nurses.
City health director Prosper Chonzi said he was in a meeting when contacted for comment.
It was not clear at the time of going to print if there were other council clinics that had joined the strike.
At Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital, it was business as usual despite reports that staff too had joined the strike.
“We are on lunchbreak, but definitely not on strike,” said a female staff member.
City of Harare spokesperson Michael Chideme said there was no strike at the clinic.
“Our investigations are that our nurses are at work. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly,” he said.