NURSES at public hospitals have approached the High Court seeking nullification of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s decision to summarily expel them from their jobs for participating in the just-ended strike.
The nurses, in their urgent chamber application filed on Friday, argued that Chiwenga had no authority to terminate their employment contracts.
The court application was filed by Kantor and Immerman lawyers on behalf of the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina), citing the Health Services Board, Health minister David Parirenyatwa and Chiwenga as respondents.
“On April 17, 2018, we met with the respondents (Health Services Board, Health and Child Care minister Parirenyatwa, and Chiwenga) at the third respondent’s (Chiwenga) offices. Instead of engaging us, the third respondent threatened the leadership of the first applicant (Zina) with violence and ejected the first applicant’s president and secretary-general from the meeting,” Zina’s secretary-general Enock Dongo said in his founding affidavit.
“. . . In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the applicants have the right to be heard prior to an administrative decision affecting them being made,” Dongo said, adding “. . . the third respondent is not the applicant’s employer. He is not party to the employment relationship between the applicants and the first respondent. He does not have the power at law to hire or fire nurses.”
According to Dongo, prior to their “purported dismissal”, Zina had raised their grievances with the HSB.
“We lack the essential tools of trade and we are exposed to diseases. We also demanded payment of our arrear salaries which date back as far as 2010,” he said adding: “. . . he (Chiwenga) refused to listen to the applicant’s position and demanded that the applicants return to work. We failed to reach an agreement with the respondents.”
Dongo also said although they had not received termination letters from their employer, they knew that such letters had been prepared in terms of the Health Services Regulations, 2006, Statutory Instrument 117 of 2006, hence the decision to approach the court for recourse.
“In terms of the aforesaid regulations, the termination of employment is effective from the date a decision to terminate is made regardless of whether or not the affected employee has been served with such letter of termination.”
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.
Meanwhile, the situation has returned to normalcy at most public hospitals, including Parirenyatwa Group, Harare Central and Chitungwiza Central hospitals after nurses resumed duties on Saturday.