More than 100 nurses at Chitungwiza Central Hospital downed tools yesterday, demanding the immediate resignation of the chief executive officer, Obadiah Moyo, whom they accused of corruption, maladministration and using intimidation tactics to cow them into submission.
The protests started on Friday and intensified yesterday after Moyo allegedly issued two circulars threatening disciplinary action against 15 suspected ring leaders.
On Friday, military police were reportedly deployed to assess the situation after protesters said their demonstration was not politically motivated.
The protesters held placards inscribed “Garwe Huyai”, a subtle call for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene and resolve the crisis at the hospital.
“We are not going to remain silent if babies are dying in the paediatric ward because there is no oxygen, no syringes, no gloves to use when caring for patients, or even glucotest strips for diabetic patients,” a nurse, who declined to be named, said.
The nursing staff claimed that most departments were running without basic supplies such as drugs and linen, with patients asked to make upfront cash payments for services, most of which have reportedly been privatised.
They added that the hospital’s pharmacy was being run by a private company called Balloon, the mortuary by Doves and X-ray imaging was being done by Baines Imaging.
“People are dying here and there are no resources, mere needles are not there, and everything has been privatised and we wonder why our hospital is the only one that is being privatised. We are now afraid even to air our voices (sic) because we have been threatened for what we are doing for our patients,” another nurse said.
Efforts to contact Moyo, operations director Washington Machiridza and principal nursing officer Mirriam Mangeya were fruitless, as they were said to be away, while their mobile phones went unanswered yesterday.
The hospital’s spokesperson, Audrey Tasaranarwo, was said to be on leave.