To: The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
Cc: Speaker of the House of Assembly
President of The Senate
Minister of Health and Child Care
Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
Ministers of State
Chairperson of The Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Welfare of Workers
Date: 26 February 2018
Subject: Deplorable Working Conditions of Government Contract Workers Under Ministry of Health and Child Care
Honourable Mr. President Sir
I write this letter hoping that your office will be able to assist.
There are many Zimbabweans who work for the Government of Zimbabwe under the Ministry of Health and Child Care as a Contract Workers on a renewable contract since basis. These contracts are the ones they refer to as Public-Private Partnerships, this one being financed by the Global Fund.
It is true that the government of Zimbabwe, and most notably the MoHCC, has benefited tremendously from this association or partnership.
It is the workers under this partnership, who unfortunately are being made to suffer the brunt of the economic hardships in the country by being completely neglected by both the Global Fund and the Ministry of Health and Childcare, and the Government of Zimbabwe.
First and foremost, all the above mentioned organisations have chosen to disown workers employed under this partnership. These include among others Primary Counsellors, Microscopists and Data Entry Clerks. The Global Fund does not recognise us as its Employees. We are also not known by the Health Services Board nor the Public Service Commission. This has left us vulnerable to severe abuse by the employer??
1. We are currently not in a position to negotiate for reasonable salaries. As it stands we are being paid $300.00 per month which translates to a basic Net Salary of $289.50 after NSSA Deductions. This amount is inclusive of housing and transport allowances. This is way below what the lowest paid Civil Servant is getting and way below what the Global Fund is paying its own contract workers who are directly engaged by that organisation. It would seem therefore, that our own government entered into this contract that neglects and prejudices its own people into a form of slavery in exchange for grants from these people. We feel short changed, and feel that our own government should at all instances, protect Zimbabwean workers from unfair labour practices and that our government should be in the forefront of upholding and safeguarding labour laws in this country and that all organisations that choose to engage workers must adhere to set down laws of the country. Unfortunately, it has not been the case here. Rather, our own government has sold us out and we are receiving a subsistence which is way below that prescribed by MoHCC for its workers, GF Workers, and what other employees in the Health sector, whether private or public are earning, including other PPPs.
2. In consistent pay days. There is no communication and we are expected to report for duty as if all things are normal. When we try to run around looking for cash to make ends meet, we are punished by having days absent from work deducted from our pay. We have children, and other dependants, we have bills to pay, we have to put food on our tables. All this is oblivious to clerks and supervisors, all of whom are permanent MoHCC employees who are given instructions to drive us mercilessly and act ruthlessly on so called acts of misconduct when we try to come up with mechanisms to sustain ourselves. These are usually coordinated and not disrupt our flow of work, but when another co-worker is not in the same situation then the shona adage “Nhamo yeumwe hairambirwi sadza” becomes a harsh reality.
3. We are being denied benefits and working conditions stipulated in the Labour Relations Act, Health Services Act and Public Service Act. Many benefits and conditions of service are deliberately left out or altered to suite the employer while disadvantaging the contract worker. We are not entitled to a thirteenth cheque, certain leave days have been omitted from our contracts, we are not entitled to medical assistance, we have no pension or terminal benefits, we are not entitled to benefit from any government schemes to benefit its workers. We are excluded from all Health Sector employment benefits such as Risk Allowances, Retention allowances etc, though we face the same hazardous and dangerous working conditions. We are non-beneficiaries of any Civil Service benefit schemes, we cannot access loans availed to other Civil Servants. Since 2014, all benefits have been systematically removed. We are denied the opportunity to further our studies. We have no protection of any kind. We are constantly threatened with non-renewal of contracts, etc, if we dare air our plight. We are treated like second class citizens, worse than the so called Makwerekwere in South Africa. We have recorded and given sympathy to Zimbabweans who have been enslaved outside the country, while our Government and MoHCC are impervious to the same harsh treatment of workers right under its nose. We have tried to tell everyone of our plight, but the Global Fund has been painted a picture of a demi-god that can do no wrong, that its evil has been declared a necessary evil and contract workers are the ultimate collateral damage.
4. Many of the contract workers especially the Primary Counsellors have been on contract for many years, some more than 10 years. They have been denied the opportunity to be employed on full time basis. This is so as long as The Global Fund will continue to fund the MoHCC. After that, there is no security of government contract workers ever getting permanent employment within the MoHCC. Even when permanent posts are advertised, Contract workers are not given first option to any permanent post and are in most cases not even called up for interviews even when they have the requisite qualifications.
There are so many disadvantages for government Contract Workers and the conditions of service are deplorable to say the least. Even the Ministry of Labour has turned a blind eye. Recently, the Government of Zimbabwe passed a Bill to protect the Global Fund against prosecution, knowing full well the gross violation their association with the MoHCC has gross violations of Labour Laws of this country and could face a host of legal suites by many former workers.
Yes, the Global Fund has played a pivotal role in the fight against HIV AIDS, but at the expense of many people that were employed under their grants and cooperation with the MoHCC. Why would a government allow its people to be so unfairly treated even when they are benefitting? Should labour laws be made to suite one organisation? What benefit does a government get when it allows its own people to be employed into poverty? The Global Fund has many attractive employment packages for its own employees all over the world, but when it comes to Zimbabwe, they have been allowed to draft up a draconian package that has seen hard working people being reduced to almost beggars while they are working.
We hope that in your promise for a better Zimbabwe for all, you will look into your prodigal children “The Contract Workers” and ensure that they also enjoy the fruits of Return Legacy.
Data Entry Clerks;
Source – Primary Counsellors, Data Entry Clerks, Microscopists