BY VUSINDLU MAPHOSA
Nkayi is one of the districts in the Matabeleland region, which are facing serious challenges in having qualified nurses recruited from the local people.
It has also been difficult for local eligible youth to be recruited to train as primary care nurses at the institution, especially after the introduction of the online recruitment process for trainee nurses.
Indications are that 16 primary care nursing trainees were recruited at Nkayi Hospital through interviews held on September 13 and 17 this year.
The concerned villagers say out of the 16 only four are from Matabeleland, while 12 are from Harare.
Concerns have been raised that locals are being marginalised from training as nurses in Nkayi.
The district has seen an influx of nurses from other provinces who do not speak the dominant local language — Ndebele, a situation locals say disadvantaging patients.
More details of the discrepancy in the deployment and recruitment of nurses emerged during the Nkayi Community Parliament virtual debate, which focused on the topic: What has gone wrong in recruiting nurses in Zimbabwe? A focus on corruption at Nkayi Hospital.
A development practitioner, Nhlanhla Ncube, who is also a villager at Zwelabo in Nkayi, said statutory provisions are ignored, and constitutional provisions violated in the recruitment processes.
“Corruption runs — rings all over at Nkayi Hospital,” Ncube said.
“Qualifying people are excluded at Nkayi Hospital, and this applies to other hospitals in the region.
“Those that were not interviewed passed the interview (for primary care nursing training). This is miraculous.
“Somebody who never attended the interview passed the interview, and those who attended did not.
“The Nkayi community should unite against corruption.”
Ncube said most hospitals in Matabeleland were staffed with nurses from outside the province or outside the region, thereby shortchanging the public.
“The public is cheated by being given people from outside the region, who will not even understand the illness the patient describes in Ndebele, while those who qualify to do the job fail to get it. It also tells us that Matabeleland people are second class citizens,” Ncube said.
Ncube said the government was violating the people’s fundamental rights as some of the deployed people do not like the local culture, the language and the people.
He said the government should give first preference to locals to train and work at local health institutions and lamented the absence of a clear policy on the deployment of nurses leading to the rot.
“Likely, the recruitment of nurses at Nkayi Hospital and across the country is run by a cartel as only one tribe benefits most, and this justifies that it is an organized crime,” Ncube said.
Human resources professional and human rights defender Descent Bajila, a guest speaker during the debate, said the health institutions were insufficient to serve Matabeleland.
“There is general nursing, psychiatric nursing, and primary care nursing,” Bajila said.
“We are used to general nursing. In Matabeleland, general nursing is trained at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and Mpilo Central and has three intakes per year, in January, May and September.
“There are some which offer two intakes and one intake.”
Bajila, a member of a pressure group, Izenzo Kungemazwi Trust, which seeks to empower youths, said those that offer less than three intakes were St Lukes, Tsholotsho, Gwanda and Brunaperg St Annies in Plumtree. At the same time, others are offering primary care training like Nkayi Hospital.
He gave an example that some people applied to the UBH or Mpilo but were offered places at in Harare.
He said was meant to frustrate them not to take the opportunity so that those responsible employ their relatives.
“The general government principle is that any Zimbabwean who applies for any opportunity must get it anywhere in Zimbabwe,” Bajila said.
“This principle is abused because chances of someone from Nkayi being accepted in Bindura are quite scarce.
“In contrast, chances of someone from Bindura being accepted in Nkayi are very high.
“Generally, hospitals in the country are dominated by people from Mashonaland.
“The problem is where are the people from Matabeleland supposed to work in Zimbabwe?”
Bajila said the majority of locals that applied to train as primary care nurses in Nkayi were turned down.
“Majority of people who are training there are not from Nkayi,” he said.
He likened the scenario to that of some applicants for the general nursing course from Matabeleleland that were being called for interviews in Harare.
“As Izenzo Kungemazwi, we assisted about 20 with bus fares to Harare,” Bajila said.
“The Harare guys were shocked to see them attending, and they have now decentralsed the process.”
Nkosilathi Ncube of Dlawa Village, who is also a businessman based at the Fudu business centre, said there was clear corruption in the recruitment of nurses and student nurses.
“There is a need to expose all corruption, name and shame the culprits, which is when action will be taken against them,” Ncube said.
“Corruption should not be practiced to divide the people.”
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Admire Kuretu said they never received any official complainant about the recruitment of nurses in Nkayi.
“There has not been any formal complaint, but the recruitment was done at Mpilo Hospital, UBH and Nkayi Hospital,” Kuretu said.
“The recruitment was coordinated by the nursing directorate.
“If I get any more information, I will let you know, but this recruitment was coordinated centrally.”
- This article was originally published by The Citizen Bulletin, a non-profit news organisation that produces hard-hitting, hyper local reporting and analysis for the southwestern region of Matabeleland.