31 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Relief for Jobless Nurses . . . As Ministry Finalises Modalities for Exporting Health Workers

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has completed crafting modalities for exporting thousands of jobless nurses to other countries across the world. Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora last week said the document had already been submitted to the Attorney General's office.

"When the AG's office finishes scrutinising and approves the document, we will then submit it to Cabinet for final approval," he said.

Deputy Minister Mombeshora said the idea was mooted for Government to re-coup funds used in training the nurses.

"Cuba is benefiting financially from exporting doctors to Zimbabwe, hence we should also benefit by exporting our jobless nurses," he said.

Deputy Minister Mombeshora gave Government's assurance that the welfare of the nurses would be its priority.

"We will ensure that the nurses are not exploited in any way when recruited abroad," he said. "Government will retain all their certificates and countries employing them will be required to remit their pensions to Zimbabwe."

Zimbabwean nurses were in demand all over the world including Europe, Australia and the Sadc region.

Government has frozen recruitment of nurses in its hospitals due to a strained fiscus. Labour experts have said Government's failure to employ bonded nurses was illegal.

Earlier this year, the number of jobless nurses bonded to the State was put at 1 800 by the Zimbabwe Nurses Association. Experts have cited contravention of labour laws - particularly the Manpower Development Act - by the Government in failing to employ the nurses, or release their certificates.

A prominent Harare lawyer recently said Government was also in contravention of ILO Conventions 29 and 105 that deal with bonded labour.

"If Government can't provide employment for the nurses, it should release their certificates and allow them to work elsewhere," he said.

"What is happening is not being applied to other sectors where Government provides training."

Section 15 of the MDA provides that the nurses can work for other employers and Government would recover money used to train them through the employers.

Many aggrieved nurses have for long been contemplating suing the Government for breach of contract, and failing to provide promised jobs.

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