Nurses strike: Is ED hostage to an invisible hand?

THE question keeps popping up: Is incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa a real lawyer? Does he have intimate knowledge on things legal?

By Learnmore Zuze

Could it be that he has mastery of the law, but is hostage to some invisible hand? How does one explain the bungling that has characterised his office as he took on power?

Who is really at the helm of this country?

Are there any consultations done first within the top echelons of power before decisions with far-reaching consequences are made?

Does the presidium understand basic legal things like the doctrine of separation of powers?

These questions are unavoidable in the wake of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s unilateral firing of nurses who went on strike after lawfully serving the requisite 14-day notice, which the government painfully ignored.

The nurses, as procedural, went on to strike in a move constitutionally meant to have their grievances addressed.

Instead of the government genuinely delving into the named health workers’ plight they chose the “Mugabeism” route of blaming every problem on politics and refusing to see reason.

Chiwenga typically responded in military fashion, dismissing the striking nurses and summarily urging old and tired retirees to report for duty.

He also called for novice medical professionals to attend to such a catastrophe.

One wonders at this rationale coming from a supposed national leadership.

How does a junior nurse, who has sat home in the last four years, suddenly come into the intensive care unit, for example, and operate the complex machines?

Some of the units at the major referral hospitals are actually challenging for nurses who have been on the job and it defies logic how amateurs should be able to handle such a crisis.

Coming back to the law, it is simple legal knowledge; in fact, basic legal knowledge that a nurse is employed by the Health Services Board (HSB) and thus can only be dismissed by the HSB. Nurses are not accountable to the President’s Office.

Chiwenga, as Vice-President, is an employee of the government, who does not have the wherewithal to dismiss people constitutionally raising labour grievances.

True, as the presidium, they should and must run around to address the overwhelming problem but it is simply unlawful to fire people who have duly complied with the legal process.

Their argument of the strike having gone political is something subjective and it is mischief of a kind to pin such a fatal decision on human perception.

It is not fiction that a hospital driver is earning more than the top nurse at a hospital, the principal nursing officer.

Mortuary attendants earn more under the ridiculous pay system. In light of these grievances it is immaterial whether or not the matter is political or not.

By-standers like us can clearly see that there is an industrial injustice that needs urgent redress.

Threatening people each time they have grievances is the ultimate Mugabe remedy which we thought the country had escaped from.

Now, happenings of the past week seem to give credence to the school of thought that Mnangagwa, as President, is simply a front for an invisible hand, presumably the military.

Mnangagwa as a lawyer, should clearly see the illegality and unconstitutionality of the firing of 30 000 nurses by a Vice-President.

Zimbabwe belongs to the people, it cannot be run in such a nauseating unilateral fashion.

This is the very things which had former First Lady Grace Mugabe the most loathed person walking on Zimbabwean soil.

Let the country be run in a professional manner. Let business be business and let politics be what it is.

It seemed to confirm everything when Mnangagwa, while speaking in Chipinge, went on to endorse the dismissal of health professionals.

One wonders, do these men, who obviously get medical treatment in South Africa and abroad, have an idea of the repercussions of their decision.

Have they been to hospitals and seen how people have died in the last few days?

The President, if truly he is a legally trained person, must appreciate the illegality of Chiwenga’s actions.

In ousting Mugabe, Zimbabweans backed the cause en-masse because Mugabe was one who never respected the Constitution.

That we see the same in Mnangagwa’s administration must worry us. There can be no dictatorial tendencies that surpass what we see.

A word of advice to Mnangagwa is that if he really values the people’s votes.

If Mnangagwa understands politics and the law, he must not nod to hastily made decisions.

It is him who takes the shame of being ridiculed for such injudicious decisions.

It is Mnangagwa who stands to lose thousands of votes due to such military style decisions.

A rationale manner of addressing grievances exists and Mnangagwa should know better than wantonly disregarding the Constitution to please his comrades.

Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail


  1. But Chiwenga is right;who was supposed to attend to the cause of the striking nurses;is it the so called HSB or the president’s office.If the same health services board was to answer ;why didn’t it attend to the queries & stop the strike.If the nurses were employed the heath board separate fr the gvt & not the gvt headed by the president,then with the situation obtaining fr the hospitals then,then the same board could be disbanded by Chiwenga on behalf of the president for failure to restrain the striking nurses,leaving a hazard in hospitals

  2. Mafirakureva weDiaspora

    Add your are Correct this Zuze is not a lawyer He/She is a filling clerk in Law offices. He should follow the events as they happened the HSB have tried to reason with the Nurses and failed The Minister of Health and Child care tried and managed to convinced treasury to release 17 Million for them. It is the duty of HSB and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to negotiate salaries of its employees. The VP came in as the last resort to save Zimbabweans. Legal or illegal by that action of bringing in Retired and Newly trained personnel some lives were saved.

  3. I strongly suspect Jose’s(Zuze)wife is a nurse and was thus personally affected by the ‘dismissal’ of 15,000(Jose,why are you doubling the figure to 30K?) nurses. Weep no more,Jose, wifey has been reinstated by Cde Chiwenga!

  4. Addmore and Mafirakureva do you live in Zimbabwe? You are so out of touch with reality. The nurses need a living wage and besides, the $17,1 million being bandied about are actuaaly arrears they are owed since 2010. The two of you, would you survive having not been paid what is due to you for almost a decade. Besides, the General should be schooled in negotiation skills the service delivery is not a military barrack. I wonder what would have happened had the General attended the Lacaster House Conference with such poor negotiating skills? A leader shlould learn to give and take and besides, he was deaaling with a critical health issue. What is his Doctorate for? Giving orders I think. Am very embarrased by what he did. ZINA and the nurses will obviuosly go to court and that is when you will realise the General used his boots instead of brain to think!

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