A storm is brewing over the recruitment of nurses into Bulawayo public hospitals, amid claims that the majority of the students are from outside the province.
The recruitment and employment of non-locals into public service in Matabeleland has always been a bone of contention, with people accusing the government for deliberately sidelining locals.
These accusatory calls are bound to grow louder seeing the low numbers of local nurses who commenced training Monday at Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH).
Well-placed sources at Mpilo Hospital said 24 nurses reported for duty but only four appeared to be locals.
“83 percent of nurses who started training at the institution are non-locals, leaving only 17 percent. What does this mean to locals who may have applied for nursing positions? Does this mean only a few applied and successfully made it or only a few were good enough? These statistics have to be interrogated given the context of Matabeleland,” said one source who spoke to CITE.
The sources also criticised the current recruitment process saying it disadvantaged disenfranchised students from the region.
“The current process demands students who would have passed their five Ordinary level subjects in one straight sitting. That is Mathematics, English, Science and other two subjects. Those who sat twice so they can pass their O level examinations and attain their five subjects are disqualified. There is no consideration of the sad state of some of the schools in Matabeleland, plus that some students have to retake subjects such as Mathematics or Science on a second sitting,” the sources said.
“Plus the application is done online but how many students from the rural areas can access connectivity. The interviews are also done in Harare meaning applicants also have to travel all the way to the capital from their respective places.”
Sources indicated that the old method of recruitment called the Lottery System was stopped by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) last year, claiming it was corrupt.
“The old system known created by one Dr Lawrence (L.O.S) Mantiziba, who sought to have equal distribution of positions and training. The lottery system would see applicants going before the Minister of State, hospital officials and directors plus the Harare head office who would choose the best students, according to their slots. Afterwards like how the lottery is played, seats would be distributed. The applicants who met the set criteria were chosen but this was stopped by ZACC,” they pointed out
Furthermore, the sources claimed what made the recruitment process more ‘dodgy’ was the speed in which it was done.
“Some of the 24 students were transferred from UBH and one from Harare, with reports saying those places were full there. The process is just not transparent,” said the sources.
Contacted for an official comment, Mpilo Clinical Director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, under whose leadership, the school of nursing falls, said he was not involved in the selection process, as that was done by the head office.
“I was not involved and I don’t know about the selection process as the new system is conducted from Harare,” he said.
His counterpart at UBH, Dr Narcisius Dzvanga also said the same.
“We are no longer in charge of the recruitment process, as that is done by Harare so we are not answerable to anything at all,” the clinical director concurred.
Meanwhile, messages have also been circulating on social media platforms, were anonymous persons were calling for demonstrations against Director of Nursing and Midwifery in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Cynthia Chasokela for importing external students nurses to Matabeleland.
Part of the message read: “Let’s start with the background of what we should voice and fight for. Mpilo School of Nursing enrolls 25 students per intake, UBH 15, Gwanda 15, St Lukes 10 while Harare Hospital 50, Parirenyatwa 50 and Chitungwiza 40. Just look at the numbers. They do not want us to learn.”
The message continued: “Interviews were secretly held in UBH (United Bulawayo Hospitals) on Monday. Some of us went and noticed that most of those coming for interviews are mostly from Harare and surrounding areas of Mashonaland East and Central…We therefore call upon the Health ambassador, Mai Mnangagwa, Provincial Ministers of State, members of parliament without division along political parties, Councillors, Veterans, parents, guardians, student unions and students including those seating for O and A Levels, Mthwakazi activists to join us as we demonstrate against corruption fuelled by the Director of Nursing services…”