VICE-PRESIDENT Constantine Chiwenga has been left with egg on the face after the High Court gave nurses a green light to continue working flexible hours which the VP in his capacity as the Health minister had banned.
BY RICHARD MUPONDE
Chiwenga, through the Health secretary Jasper Chimedza on October 19 directed provincial medical directors to resume normal working hours for all nurses, saying the flexi working hours were creating artificial staff shortages.
However nurses objected to the decision by the Health ministry to scrap the flexible working hour system so that they could work for 40 hours a week.
In his judgement last Friday Justice Happias Zhou in case number HC7099/20 ruled that the nurses could continue working flexible hours despite the noting of an appeal by government against the initial judgment by Justice Mafusire of November 20, which reversed the termination of flexible hours by Chiwenga.
“It is hereby ordered that the application be, and is hereby granted and notwithstanding the noting of an appeal against the judgment of this Honourable Court dated 20 November, 2020 under Reference Case No. HC6507/2020, that the 1st to 3rd respondents remain barred from implementing the directive by the 3rd respondents on the 19th of October 2020,” Zhou ruled.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) led by their president Enock Dongo on November 8, approached the High Court seeking to bar Chiwenga from implementing his directive.
Justice Mafusire ruled in their favour, but Chiwenga appealed the decision and at the same time he also ordered the nurses to go back to work.
ZINA then approached the court seeking an order to allow the nurses to continue working flexible hours as their appeal was being heard.
On October 21, ZINA wrote a letter to Chimedza objecting to the order, and accusing the Health Ministry secretary of making unilateral decisions.
The nurses argued that the flexible working hour system was a product of agreement within the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP) and said that the ministry’s circular ran contrary to the other communication they received on May 11, 2020, where it was put clearly that the flexible hour system would remain in place because it reduced exposure to COVID-19.
Flexi-hours were introduced in November last year following an agreement between nurses and government to cushion the financially incapacitated nurses who could not afford to come to work every day because of poor salaries.