AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - The Covid-19 crisis aggravated by the strike of nurses, exacerbated by low wages and corruption

Saturday, 18 July 2020 coronavirus   corruption   healthcare  

Harare (Agenzia Fides) - "We noted with concern that the current state of the health sector characterized by the failure by the government to amicably resolve the protracted strike by medical personnel, did not augur well with the desperate need to prepare for the spiraling cases of COVID-19. Coupled with this was the realization that the resources mobilized for the pandemic were not being handled in ways that instilled confidence to the public", said Christian religious leaders, associated in the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD), in their meeting with the representatives of 17 political parties. With over a thousand confirmed cases of Covid-19, 20 dead and less than 100 ventilators in a Country of 16 million inhabitants, the nurse strike hits Zimbabwe strongly during the global pandemic emergency.
The main claim of the strike is economic: the low wages (about $ 30 a week) whose purchasing power inflation of over 700% devalues day by day. In second place the precarious working conditions. The staff has no material to protect themselves from the coronavirus (face masks, gloves, coveralls). The arrest for corruption of the Minister from Health, Obediah Moyo, has increased the anger of health workers and citizens.
The police heavily repressed the paramedics' demonstration on 6 July, organized in front of Sally Mugabe Central, one of the two main hospitals in the capital: the police chased nurses wearing their uniform with batons. Thirteen nurses were arrested and 11 accused of violating government containment rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Christian leaders highlighted the negative effects of the current economic collapse characterized by increasing corruption cases, most of which are not being resolved satisfactorily. "The informal economy which had become the source of livelihoods for the majority of citizens had been destroyed, not only due to the effects of COVID-19 but because of the economic policies in which citizens were not properly consulted. This level of poverty has further marginalized citizens especially women and children to be able to meaningfully participate in democratic processes". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 18/7/2020)