Zimbabwe nurses ‘reduced to selling fruit’
Harare – Nurses in Zimbabwe have been reduced to selling tomatoes and other fruit to survive due to poor public sector salaries, the country’s health minister said on Wednesday.
Henry Madzorera was speaking after receiving a donation from the US of computer equipment to help register nurses’ details in the virtually-bankrupt country.
Washington has also donated a generator to Zimbabwe’s nurse registry agency, the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe, to use during power cuts.
“We are left with immediately qualified nurses, mostly. Some senior nurses are selling tomatoes in our streets. We need them to teach the young ones,” Madzorera said.
Madzorera said “the brain drain was debilitating on Zimbabwe’s health sector”, with more than 2000 vacancies for senior nurses as they leave for a better life, mainly in Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia and in the region especially neighbouring Botswana.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We need to remedy a lot of things that have happened over the past years,” he added, of his country’s coalition government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed two years ago.
Civil servants in Zimbabwe have long complained of poor salaries and out-of-date equipment at their work places.
Last week, Mugabe’s government offered a 50% salary increase, short of the 200% civil servants are demanding.
Public sector workers, on strike for more than three weeks are divided over the offer.
They want the least past government worker to get $502 as a monthly salary, from less than $200.