BULAWAYO residents on Wednesday afternoon picketed outside Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in a move meant to push for 24-hour council clinics.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The residents, led by activist, Khumbulani Maphosa, are pushing for the review of operating times of BCC clinics, which currently close at 3pm.
In a petition to BCC late last year, Maphosa argued the 3pm closing time denied the general public access to emergency healthcare services, and was an insult to the right to health and a violation of Section 76(3) of the country’s Constitution.
On Wednesday, Maphosa delivered “gift cards” thanking councillors for their denying them the right to basic health.
“This note is being sent to you with just one thought in mind, to thank you in the warmest way for being so kind and denying us the right to basic health services by refusing to open council clinics 24 hours per day, a week, including public holidays,” a gift card addressed to mayor Martin Moyo read.
In an interview with Southern Eye, Maphosa said the current crop of councillors had failed them.
“By refusing our issue of clinics opening 24 hours, they have shown us that they do not care about our needs and they don’t have our concerns at heart that’s why we thank them for showing us openly that they are there to serve other interests not ours.”
Council, in turning down the request, cited staff shortages resulting from an employment freeze owing to a biting financial squeeze.
“In the 19 clinics operated by council, the staff complement does not exceed 60%, which results in burnout of staff and long waiting times for patients.
“The City of Bulawayo has an employment freeze and vacancies previously occupied by retired or deceased staff members have not been filled. Staff at maternity centres works 12-hour shifts in order to cope and this leads to overtime which is a heavy liability to council,” Moyo said, adding the council has, however, identified land to construct two district hospitals in Bulawayo that will open 24 hours per day.