Zimbabwe’s government passed legislation that outlaws any industrial action in the health sector.
The new Health Services Bill, which came into force on Tuesday, forbids health workers who are classified as an “essential” service from striking for more than three days. Those who do not comply face a fine or imprisonment of up to six months.
"It is very unfortunate. The right to protest has been taken away,” said Enock Dongo, president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA). “When you threaten health workers with jail, how do you expect them to discharge their duties? This will affect every citizen, nurses will just adopt a ‘go-slow’ ” he said.
“This law has taken us two steps backwards. We have been trying to fight brain drain. Further frustration of health workers would lead to more people leaving. This bill will bring more negatives than positives,” said Norman Matara, the president of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.