Editor’s Memo

Sadc rogue states’ bond of slavery
Joram Nyathi

IMAGINE Standard Chartered Bank writing a memo to Barclays Bank Zimbabwe to say don’t employ Jairos Simbi without our permission. He is an employee of ours. Or OK Zimbabwe making a similar requ

est to TM Zimbabwe for the same reasons.

Or at a different level, imagine all banks in Zimbabwe reaching a memorandum of understanding to give all their top employees a similar salary so that there is no staff mobility or competition.

I don’t know what such a cartel would be called or whether it is legal. I have no doubt however that there would be a major outcry from official circles about big business trying to penalise talent and to stifle competition. What happens when countries try to impose such conditions on the movement of their citizens?

There was a report in a local daily this week of Sadc states crafting a bond of slavery that would forbid the “stealing” of talent from member countries. This, it was claimed, would stop the brain drain in the region.

It is telling that such a protocol will only apply in the Sadc region where most of the leaders are under the evil spell of the regime in Harare. In Europe and America slavery was abolished centuries ago and they would be unlikely to accept its reintroduction for professionals under some fancy name.

Under the envisaged protocol, no Sadc member state will “disadvantage” another by “luring health professionals using economic superiority”.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa is said to have endorsed this fantasy because it would benefit Zimbabwe and other Sadc states “against South Africa and Botswana, which lead the list of engaging doctors and nurses from neighbours since they offer the highest salaries”.

Parirenyatwa said permission would be sought first from the applicant’s government whether he can be employed. The government then uses its own discretion as to whom to clear and whom not.

In its desperation to set new dubious records, the Zimbabwean government has been trying to come up with legislation that will allow it to seize citizens’ passports, if such citizens are deemed to have said unflattering things about government.

It is not clear whether they will want to use the same iniquitous law to stop Zimbabweans leaving the country to seek better opportunities elsewhere for themselves and their children as conditions here continue to deteriorate under a delinquent administration that wants to rule by coercion instead of persuasion.

Short of seizing passports, the protocol obviously has no force nor effect in the civilised world. In other words it is only Sadc countries that will miss the chance to share or transfer skills.

The report didn’t name the other colluding rogue states. It is also not clear whether South Africa and Botswana have endorsed this patently illegal protocol that seeks to tie health professionals to unprofitable employment in their mother countries in the name of stemming the brain drain.

The report did state that government has in the past tried to use the bonding system to retain skilled workers. It failed.

The doctors and nurses have not been secretive about what they need. They want better salaries and improved working conditions. They want drugs and equipment to carry out their duties professionally. They want to be able to buy a decent house and to drive to work. They want to give their children a decent education and plan a better future for them. Unfortunately, government has not been able to meet any of these basic requirements.

It is not hard to find out what informs the so-called Sadc protocol on health professionals — the same mentality that makes our leaders believe everybody else is unpatriotic except themselves.

Patriotic Zimbabweans are expected to endure a life of deprivation while politicians wallow in the lap of luxury because they brought us political independence.

Secondly, government has not learnt a thing from the failed bonding system — force alone without incentives will not work. It is not for lack of resources that Zimbabwe cannot pay its professionals well. It is incompetence and misallocation of resources pure and simple.

If South Africa and Botswana are able to pay more it is no more than their appreciation of the skills that our doctors and nurses possess. But we treat them as if they were no more than untrained labourers.

Parirenyatwa said it didn’t matter whether the doctors had trained outside Zimbabwe. They should return for their housemanship.

“They should have knowledge of how the system works here,” he declared. It would be interesting to see how many take up this patriotic challenge given the threat of not being allowed to leave the country again.

Previous articleMuckraker
Next articleComment

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading