OVER 100 nurses employed by the Harare City Council have resigned in recent months in protest over the non-payment of their Covid-19 risk allowances.
The mass resignations have since crippled the operations of the local council’s clinics forcing the authority to close some of them due to shortage of nurses to man them.
The government has made a commitment to pay all frontline workers in local councils and government health centres employed either as nurses or health workers a US$75 per month as Covid-19 allowance.
However, Harare City Council nurses complain they have not been receiving the promised allowances and leaving en-mass. Their plight has been worsened as their employer, the city council, has also not been paying them and other employees in other department their monthly salaries.
The resignations were confirmed by Harare North MP Markham in the House of Assembly last week who then questioned Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro on the issue and why government was not forthcoming in paying the nurses their allowances as agreed.
Markham added nurses employed by the Bulawayo City Council were also affected by the non-payment of the allowances. However, it could not be confirmed whether they were also resigning.
“I would like to clarify on Covid allowances. The Covid allowance for nurses in urban areas as well is not being received. Harare and Bulawayo have both not received at the local government level,” Markham said.
“This has led to approximately 100 nurses resigning from the local authority here in Harare. Could the Minister give us assurance that the US$75 is being paid to frontline workers in the medical profession?”
However, in response Mangwiro insisted government was paying the US$75 directly into the accounts of each frontline worker entitled to the allowance.
“Payments are being directed to the individual’s accounts. If there are any specific problematic accounts or anything, I will be glad to entertain that together with my team at the ministry,” he said.
Harare City Council runs to main referral hospitals, Wilkins and Beatrice Infectious, which have been turned into main Covid-19 treatment centre for patients in the capital city requiring admission.
Mangwiro added the Health Ministry was disbursing monthly Covid-19 risk allowances to village health workers (VHWs) into the ministry’s provincial accounts and the provinces were disbursing the allowances to the individual accounts of the VHWs.
“However, some of the VHWs are facing challenges in opening bank accounts. The Covid-19 risk allowance for VHWs is $1.500 RTGs per month and US$75 per month on top of the usual US$45 per quarter.”