A group of 20 student nurses at Bonda Mission Hospital, who had their training contracts terminated barely a month after commencement, have taken the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa to the High Court.
Minister Parirenyatwa, Bonda Mission Hospital and the provincial medical director for Manicaland, a Dr Mafaune, were listed as respondents in the suit.
The 20 were served with termination letters without any tangible reason, a development that resulted in their lawyer Mr Emmanuel Mukwewa approaching the court with an application for reinstatement. Mr Mukwewa of Mukwewa Law Chambers wants the ministry to be barred from unlawfully interfering with the training of the 20.
According to the court application, the 20 in July 2016 responded to an advertisement that was placed in a local newspaper inviting applications from aspiring nurses. The interviews were held to recruit students for the 2017 and 2018 intakes.
Several candidates passed the test, but the 20 were among the group admitted for the January 2018 intake. They received offer letters stating January 8, 2018 as the school opening day. They paid for all the requirements, including uniforms, as per the student nurses’ list.
“Our admission and studies were, however, suddenly, unexpectedly, unilaterally and unlawfully terminated by the first and third respondents without justifiable reasons or explanations,” said one of the students in her founding affidavit.
“We were notified of this decision on the 5th of February 2018 even though the letters were dated February 1, 2018.”
Between February 5 and 13, 2018, the students sought audience with the relevant authorities, but they did not get a favourable response. The students contend that the decision to terminate their training seriously affected them.
“It is an understatement that this is a drastic decision adversely affecting us as we have nowhere to start,” reads one of the founding affidavits. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible for us to secure alternative places for a similar training as vacancies are periodic and highly sought after.
“We have invested financial resources to be enrolled for this programme. Some of us even borrowed money from relatives in the hope that we will enrol for the programme and be employed eventually. Our future and livelihood are at stake.”
Terminating the training contract without any hearing, the students argued, was a violation of their right to administrative justice.
“We were never informed nor invited by first respondent to discuss the matter before the decision was made,” reads the affidavit.
“There is an undeniable breach of natural justice and a violation of Section 68 of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the Administration of Justice Act.” The matter is yet to be set down for hearing at the High Court. – state media