By- The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) has said the government withheld nurses’ verification letters despite paying US$300 each in 2020.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga doubles as the Health Minister.
During a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health meeting, it was revealed that thousands of registered nurses who applied for Certificate of Good Standing and Confirmation letters to the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe may have been defrauded of US$3.4 million over the past two years.
These letters, also known as “verifications,” confirm that a nurse has completed a diploma course and are used for work applications outside Zimbabwe. Lucas Sharara, ZINA Harare chairperson said:
A lot of nurses have paid verification fees but are yet to receive the letters since 2020.
They paid USD300 each but nothing has materialised. Three-quarters of nurses in this building today have written the English test and are just waiting for the verifications.
Once they get that document, they are leaving Zimbabwe.
The Nurses Council was issuing the document but we are being told the verifications were transferred from the Nurses Council to the Health Ministry’s head office.
We are not sure what is really happening because it seems the Nurses Council is now being controlled by the Health Ministry.
According to the representative body for nurses, between 11,000 and 11 600, nurses paid for verifications in the past two years.
Another nurse stated that the government continues to accept payment for verifications, despite the Nurses Council being aware that the verifications will not be issued by the Health Ministry. The nurse requested that Parliament investigate why the government is accepting payments for verifications without delivering the service.
The chairperson of the Health Committee, Ruth Labode, encouraged the nurses to write to Parliament, as there are concerns that the money may have been misused.
Nurses in Zimbabwe earn a salary of 45 000 RTGS before allowances, and the verification letters would allow them to work in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The USD component of the nurses’ salaries, paid as a COVID-19 and donor allowance, can be withdrawn at any time by the government, according to ZINA. The Nurses Council of Zimbabwe has also been accused of charging USD50 for the collection of diploma certificates.
Many Zimbabwean health workers, including nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals, have been leaving the country to work abroad in large numbers. The reasons for this include low salaries, poor working conditions, lack of resources, and political instability.
Some observers say the government introduced strict measures in recent years to block more health caregivers from going abroad as the brain drain has had a significant impact on the healthcare system in Zimbabwe, leading to shortages of medical personnel and a decline in the quality of care.