Harare Central Hospital security guards yesterday assaulted several nurses who were demonstrating against chief executive officer Mrs Peggy Zvavamwe’s purchasing of her service vehicle, ahead of the hospital critical operations.
The nurses were saying that the shortage of medicines and sundries was hindering their work, and the hospital management unleashed the security guards on them.
Mrs Zvavamwe recently bought a Jeep Cherokee for $87 000 raised from patients which was supposed to purchase drugs.
Dressed in their white gear, the nurses dropped their thermometers and burst into song and dance in protest at the hospital’s administration block.
Student nurses had to attend to patients, while their seniors waved placards, teasing the hospital management for prioritising the purchase of the vehicle.
One of the placards read: “Paracet US$1-Jeep US$87 000”.
The demonstration ended after the hospital’s security guards descended on the nurses with batons, before taking two of them, Mr Lucas Sharara and Mr Kudakwashe Goko, to Mbare police station for allegedly leading the unsanctioned demonstration.
The hospital security officers later dropped their case against the two before pressing any charges.
Mr Sharara, who is the chairman of the Harare Central Hospital chapter of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, said they initially sought audience with Mrs Zvavamwe.
He said they discussed the lack of resources in the wards, need for locum, need for free medical care for members of staff and need for a day care centre at the institution for their children.
“We met the CEO on Thursday last week, where we presented four main grievances, but we did not get any positive response,” said Mr Sharara. “By then, it was still a rumour that the hospital had purchased a car for $87 000. Our worst fears were then confirmed on Friday morning when the vehicle was delivered to the institution.
“Today’s demonstration was to show our frustrations to the management.
“We are frustrated because there are no resources to use in the wards. No gloves, betadine solution, cannular or even anything.”
Mr Sharara said the workers were also demanding introduction of locums just like any other hospital in the country.
Locum is when a health care provider is hired on a temporary basis and paid per services rendered.
Mr Sharara said since three quarters of the staff at the hospital were females, they were also demanding that there be a day care centre for their children.
He said they were also demanding that the nurses be treated free of charge at the hospital.
Other nurses interviewed said the hospital was failing to purchase essentials such as blood, which could have been done using the $87 000 used to purchase the vehicle.
“We all know that blood transfusion saves lives, but people are dying because there is no blood,” said one of the nurses.
Mrs Zvavamwe is on record as saying the purchase of her car was above board.
She said the purchase of the vehicle was approved in April last year and that is when they started mobilising money.
Mrs Zvavamwe said drug shortages experienced at the hospital were not peculiar, as other institutions were facing similar problems.
The decision to buy the vehicles for all hospitals’ CEOs was reached following an expose by the auditor general that some of the institutions were spending as much as $6 000 per month in car rentals, which did not make economic sense.
Harare Central Hospital was one such institution which was renting a car for the CEO.