Riot police on Wednesday reportedly descended on Bindura General Hospital and assaulted nurses for joining a nationwide strike by health workers.
Since Monday, doctors, nurses and other staff at public hospitals have been on strike, demanding US dollar salaries, among other demands.
At Bindura General Hospital, baton-wielding police officers stormed the health institution and beat up nurses including elderly nurses.
Some of the nurses had to remove their uniforms to hide their identity as cops chased and assaulted them.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was unaware of the incident.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo condemned the assault of striking nurses by the police. Said Dongo:
The hospital is deserted; nurses have stayed at home because they fear being beaten. The fear has triggered nurses to boycott their workstations.
The overzealousness of the police has worsened the situation because other nurses from other hospitals might also stay at home fearing being beaten up by the police.
Health Apex leader Tapiwanashe Kusotera urged the Government to address the plight of healthcare workers as a matter of urgency. Said Kusotera:
We hope that the government takes this as an urgent matter.
We take job action as the last resort. As we speak, some hospitals have shut down.
The situation is not looking good, and we implore authorities to take this seriously.
Government has not offered us anything as of today but we keep demanding that the issues we are raising must be addressed.
Health Service Board executive director Angelbert Mbengwa said he was not in a position to comment on the government’s position on the issue.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike called for genuine dialogue between the Government and healthcare workers to find a lasting solution to the ongoing impasse. He said:
The current impasse between the striking health workers and government over demands for improved working conditions, tools of trade and better remuneration has taken too long to address resulting in the untold suffering to the general public and now causing unnecessary preventable and avoidable deaths.
We want to encourage genuine dialogue and long-lasting solutions to the current stalemate instead of intimidation or firing.
Both parties should bear in mind that more than 90% of the Zimbabwean population depends on the public health delivery system.