SW Radio Africa (London)

1 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Tuku Sings in Praise of Hospital Workers

Workers at Harare Central Hospital received a special Workers' Day treat from music legend Oliver Mtukudzi, who spent Thursday morning at the institution.

Mtukudzi was at the hospital to familiarise himself with the challenges at the major referral centre which needs $60 million to bring it up to acceptable standards.

Like most facilities meant to provide services to ordinary Zimbabweans, Harare hospital is suffering from neglect from the government which is failing to allocate adequate resources.

As a result, underpaid medical staff work under difficult conditions characterised by obsolete equipment, crumbling infrastructure and a shortage of resources.

Mtukudzi says it is for this reason that he decided to commemorate this workers day by visiting patient wards and speaking to nurses at the hospital, to demonstrate his appreciation at the work they do.

Addressing the staff in Shona, the superstar said remuneration for doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe did not reflect the amount of work they do.

"If it had, you wouldn't be here given the poor salaries in the country. So I urge you not to underestimate what you because you are doing a great job," Tuku said.

Mtukudzi rounded up his visit at the hospital with an awards presentation ceremony to medical staff and sang a special "thank-you" song for the staff.

Among the eight workers from various departments who received awards was Itai Chidindi, who got the Nurse of the Year Award.

Harare Hospital ambassadors Impala Car Rental mobilised the resources for the awards.

Workers affiliated to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions-Concerned Affiliates were however not so lucky as Harare police blocked them from commemorating their day.

Their lawyer Jeremiah Bamu told SW Radio Africa that the police claimed that Harare Gardens, where the workers had planned to gather, had already been booked by another group.

Bamu said the workers will be approaching the courts over the matter.

"The police continue to give themselves powers which they do not have at law and so we will be raising this matter in court so that the correct position is spelt out."

The ZCTU-Concerned Affiliates broke away from the main ZCTU group in 2011 and comprises 14 unions.

The ZCTU held its commemorations at Gwanzura stadium where workers denounced the ZANU PF government's ZimAsset blueprint which has failed to deliver any jobs or economic recovery 10 months after the party won the elections.

SW Radio Africa's Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme, who joined workers gathered at White City Stadium, said the workers demanded that the ZANU PF government delivers the two million jobs it promised during elections.

In a comment shared on Facebook Irene Petras, who heads Zim Lawyers for Human Rights said: "Today I, and a most unfortunate representative of the Ministry of Labour, learned that if you ever want to incite a riot amongst workers in Zimbabwe and bring upon yourself the prospect of severe bodily harm, you only have to utter one word - ZimAsset."

For the 34 years that ZANU PF has been in power, it has failed to deliver. In the region Zim workers are the worst paid, unemployment is above 90% and last year hundreds of companies closed.

In a solidarity statement, the Zim Lawyers for Human Rights also observed how the government continues to violate workers' rights by failing to implement the new constitution.

The new charter provides for the "protection of labour rights, freedom to demonstrate and petition and the right to collective job action and collective bargaining. However, the lawyers group noted with concern the lack of political will "to implement the positive protective provisions relating to the rights of workers."

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