According to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, the nurses had refused to return to work after $17m was released to increase their pay. He described the nurses’ strike as “deplorable and reprehensible.”
Chiwenga, the military general who led the ousting of Robert Mugabe in November, when the army briefly took control of the country, said funds that had been released to meet demands of the striking nurses would now be redirected and allocated towards the recruitment of new nurses.
Government has decided in the interest of patients and of saving lives, he said, adding that unemployed and retired nurses would be hired to replace those fired.
The nurses’ strike came after government gave in to doctors’ demands and hiked their salaries and allowances following a month-long strike.
The doctors received an upward review of on-call allowances. Junior doctors’ on-call allowances were reviewed from the current $1.50 per hour to $7.50 per hour.
The crisis entailed by severe drought and a failing economy hit Zimbabwe’s hospitals hard last year.
President Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy and veteran loyalist in the ruling Zanu-PF party, vowed to revive the country’s moribund economy and attract foreign investment to fund better public services.