As thousands of unemployed nurse-midwives take to the streets today, government says it is not under any obligation to recruit graduates from public health training institutions.
But the grouping, through health rights activist Donald Zgambo, has hit back saying it is disappointing that government is in the forefront providing “cheap and exploitative forms of labour” by keeping the nurse-midwives for years as interns instead of employing them.
He said the concerned nurse-midwives will be joined by doctors and clinicians today in holding demonstrations and vigils on roads leading to State residences of Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre as well as in all districts as one way of forcing government to recruit them.
The demonstrations, according to Zgambo, will culminate in the disgruntled interns collectively putting down tools on December 2 2019, if their grievances are not addressed.
But in an interview yesterday, Ministry of Health (MoH) chief director of health services Charles Mwansambo said Capital Hill and district councils were not under any obligation to recruit the health workers, adding government only recruits based on vacancies and available resources.
MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango in a separate interview said that: “There is no contract with government [to automatically recruit them], but a recruitment plan was communicated to some of the mother bodies.”
With the decentralisation process, MoH is only responsible for recruiting health workers in central hospitals, while councils, under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, recruit for district hospitals and health centres.
On his part, Secretary for Local Government Charles Kalemba also said there is no contractual agreement between the graduates and government on employment.
He said: “Government recruits based on establishment and finances availability. These two issues depend on the Department of Human Resources Management and Development [DHRDM]under the Office of President and Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance who determine when MDAs should recruit.
“So they are not marching against us or MoH, they are marching against OPC and Treasury, they are two offices that can provide answers.”
He said the DHRDM has put about K500 million in local councils, another K500 million for MoH and K1.5 billion for the Youth Internship programme to recruit people.
On his part, Zgambo argued That they want is to see government stop providing cheap and exploitative forms of labour amid its high vacancy rates.
“We do not in any way think that the government is responsible for employing every health graduate. All we are saying is that the government has no mandate to offer exploitative forms on them,” he said. The group is, therefore, demanding massive formal recruitment of nurse/midwives, doctors and clinicians, but also abolition of locum until all health workers are formally recruited.