Zimbabwe threatens health workers with jail if they strike


HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe has introduced legislation banning health workers such as nurses and doctors from prolonged strikes, imposing penalties of up to six months in prison for workers or union leaders who defy, state media and a government spokesman said Wednesday.

The provision, which was signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week but has now been made public, stipulates that healthcare workers can only go on strike for up to three days because they are considered an essential service.

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana wrote on Twitter that medical professionals should continue to provide emergency services during the strike.

Other countries including neighboring South Africa and Zambia limit health workers’ strikes but impose less severe penalties, such as layoffs, work suspensions or pay cuts.

Frequent and weeks-long strikes by healthcare workers for years have put a strain on Zimbabwe’s public health facilities, which are already in disrepair due to deteriorating infrastructure and lack of medicine.

Public health workers argue that their salaries — about $100 a month for many — and the lack of basic equipment make their jobs untenable.

The South African nation, once boasting some of the best public healthcare facilities and staff in Africa, is now grappling with a brain drain as nurses and doctors search for opportunities. better than elsewhere, mainly in the UK.


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