The Zimbabwean government is pushing hard to pass a series of controversial lawas including a PVO bill that muzzles Non-governmental organisations, a bill that outlaws “unpatriotic” sentiment and behavior and a health law bill that essentially makes it illegal for doctors and nurses to engage in industrial action even when there are underpaid. It is easy to see why the government is doing this, they have been embroiled in tussles with nurses and doctors for virtually much of the “second republic” tenure.

We are not yet a high middle-income country but our training facilities for health service workers are very good and they are frequently sought after by other countries.

Accordingly, the Bill will declare that health service to be an essential service.

This means that the service cannot be withdrawn by ordinary methods of industrial action.

Instead Madam Speaker, negotiations must be undertaken leading to compulsory arbitration if there is a deadlock between the parties.

At most withdrawal of services during collective job action cannot exceed 72 hours in any week.

The Health Minister speaking on the issue

Say hello to command health

The government of Zimbabwe likes to think that it knows whats best for everyone and loves to centralise power. They also like to issue commands, orders and imperatives and have been modelling just about every sector of this country with that approach in mind. We have seen command transport, command agriculture and command economic policies come out over the past few years. The government hates it when it cannot control something and this bill gives them that control although it is doubtful the bill will give them what they want-a compliant health workforce that is docile and pliant.

Like most civil servants, doctors and nurses feel they are underpaid and have been furiously engaging with the government over their pay issue. On several occassions they have downed tools. They feel the government has slowly been using the high unemployment rate in this country to skew negotiating leverage in its favour resulting in them being underpaid in RTGS no less. However with positions opening up in other countries due to aging populations and COVID-19 more and more nurses and doctors have been leaving for greater pastures.

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