Trainee nurses recruitment ‘controversy’ resurfaces

Activists in Matabeleland have once again lambasted the trainee nurses recruitment system following revelations that only two out of the 45 successful applicants for the Mpilo Central Hospital School of Nursing September intake are from Bulawayo. 

Last year in October, the online recruitment of trainee nurses drew the ire of activists and political parties after four locals out of 24 were chosen from the region, prompting ZAPU to stage a sit-in at Mpilo Hospital.

“The same situation has happened once again, as only two student nurses are from Bulawayo, 16 from both Matabeleland North and South while the rest came from Mashonaland,” said hospital sources.

“One even came from as far as Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe.”

This list of successful student nurses was compiled by the Ministry of Health and Child Care after applicants applied online and were shortlisted for interviews at respective nursing schools across the country.

However, the online recruitment application process itself has been viewed as discriminatory as applicants from poor backgrounds struggle to access the portal due to lack of access to the internet and high data costs.

“It seems the whole recruitment process is done in secret otherwise it would be interesting to know whether Mashonaland faces the same challenge,” said the sources.

Reached for a comment, Mpilo Acting Chief Executive Officer, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, distanced the hospital from the recruitment system

“We only receive the list of nurses who are to start training and the list comes from the head office. We are not involved in recruitment, in fact as a hospital we have been worried about the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

Mpilo School of Nursing Principal Tutor, Charity Nyandoro, said they had no say on the recruitment of trainee nurses. 

“The role of the nursing school here is just to interview applicants, who would have been shortlisted for interviews. The names come from head office, we conduct the interviews and once we are done with the interviews, we send the names back to Harare. When the final list comes our duty is to train the students,” she said.

Hospital sources claimed people were made to believe the online recruitment used random selection but it was unclear if that selection randomised applicants by district, province or nationally.

“The old system was better because it was done locally but was stopped after nepotism concerns were raised. Now, you can’t penetrate this online system and the region has no say since it is online. You can’t even ask the authorities because they too will say it’s online. Some applicants have even complained that the portal cuts off during the application process, as a result some manage to fill in halfway, others three-quarters and few manage to complete it,” said the sources.

“Since Chinhoyi University of Technology developed the application system, the mandate of selecting local candidates must be given to the National University of Science and Technology to manage and also test the random selection.”

Ministry of Health and Child Care permanent secretary Dr Jasper Chimedza did not respond to an inquiry on the matter. 

ZAPU Southern Region Communications Director, Patrick Ndlovu said the recruitment exposed how the government continued with its systematic repression of people in Bulawayo and Matabeleland.

“These clandestine activities are against the spirit of devolution, which the people of this country entrenched in the 2013 constitution. We now see why Zanu refuses to implement the constitution because it goes against its 1979 Grand plan. We will not sit back and see our people put in the yoke of ethnic colonialism,” he said.

Ndlovu pointed out the nursing selection should be conducted in the same way police and the army recruited candidates.

“Police and the army announce that at a particular date they would be at a particular region selecting candidates. Their selection criteria is somewhat fair but when it comes to nursing, why is the selection different?”

Last year, ZAPU descended on St Annes Hospital in Brunapeg, Mangwe  district and shut down the training school after it emerged that the mission hospital had zero local trainee nurses.

Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) president, Mqondisi Moyo urged the government to enforce devolution and empower locals.

“MRP is disturbed by the continued skewed employment malpractices at Mpilo Hospital. The skewed employment at Mpilo is just promoting unfairness and continued marginalisation while benefiting people from Mashonaland,” he said.

Moyo said MRP needed to see fair regional representation, where the government took transparent, fair and affirmative action to empower all Zimbabweans, especially the youth.

“We now see that the government through the 1979 Grand Plan continues to isolate and marginalise our people. They cannot even respect the so-called constitution of the country where Chapter 14 promotes devolution of power. As MRP we are tired of these inconsistencies, where our youths are denied opportunities even though they are qualified. Hence our fight for the separation from Zimbabwe because the unitary state status does not benefit other minority tribes.”

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