Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has been forced to cut down on its recruitment of nurses and police officers following the freezing of posts five years ago.
BY FELUNA NLEYA
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa confirmed that government has made a drastic reduction in the number of nurses undergoing training due to lack of funds.
The reduction, he said, has been going on gradually over the years and according to sources at several nurses’ training schools, tutors who have been made redundant have been deployed to work as nurses.
Government is failing to secure employment for thousands of nurses that have graduated following the freezing of posts.
“Yes we did reduce the number of people we take for nurses’ training and this was due to the freezing of posts,” Parirenyatwa said.
“This was because when they qualified they did not get employment, so why train a lot of nurses who will be jobless. We have more than 2 800 nurses who are unemployed, which means we cannot continue to train them when they will sit at home.”
Parirenyatwa however said government would not completely stop training nurses, but would simply reduce the numbers.
“The point is we cannot close down the nursing schools totally because when we will need to train when the economy is back on track, it would be difficult to start from scratch, so we just said where we used to take 100 people per intake we now take about 60 people or less,” Parirenyatwa said.
“We continue to train the nurses but we do that at a reduced scale. What we are doing now is to have the trained nurses specialise in areas. That way they continue training too.”
Some officials at Harare’s major referral hospitals — Parirenyatwa and Harare Central Hospital — who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that they had reduced the number of nurses they train per intake with other hospitals countrywide taking as little as 20 nurses at a time.
Although President Robert Mugabe last year ordered the unfreezing of posts, impressed by the successful operation of the conjoined twins at Harare Hospital, the bulk of nurses that have been trained over the years remain jobless. This is despite the fact that the country is facing a serious shortage of nurses at most health centres.
Although police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba professed ignorance over the development, the police force has also reportedly scaled down on its recruitment with police instructors being redeployed to police stations for normal police duties.
“I am not aware of that,” Charamba said.
But former instructors who spoke to The Standard said they had been deployed to police stations due to the reduction in the number of recruits.
“I was stationed at Morris Depot as an instructor but I have been re-deployed to a police station,” the police officer said.
“They are no longer taking recruits as they used to. They have reduced intakes so instead of about four training police depots only two are still taking in recruits and still the numbers have shrinked. If you go to Ndabazinduna you will find there is no more police training taking place there.”
Government is struggling to pay its 230 000-strong workforce due to the deteriorating economic situation.