…as militaristic tone set to gaggle civil space
By Shingirai Vambe in Parliament of Zimbabwe
MBIZO Legislator, Settlement Chikwinya this Tuesday told Parliament that the proposed Health Amendment Bill which was sponsored by the Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino G. Chiwenga, must be struck off the role.
The Bill was described and debated as a militaristic Bill which spoke against the dictates and tenets of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“Madam Speaker, it is prudent that whenever these bills are debated, ministers should be in the house, so that they also listen to debates and issues being raised for the benefit of their respective ministries,” said Chikwinya.
The bill’s contents speak of infringing the rights of workers from gathering and demonstrating against their employers.
Section 3 reads, “Any individual who is a member of the governing body of any union or representative body of members of the Health service which incites or organise any job collective action contrary to subsection 2(b) 25 or C shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 10 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both such fine and such imprisonment”.
Chikwinya said the memorandum of the Bill speaks to align the health service profession of the health regulations to the Constitution but the contents of the bill intend to achieve the opposite.
“I am not very sure how many jurisdictions either in Southern Africa or in Africa or internationally who have a plethora of legislation trying to manage workers in your own country.
We have the Labour Relations Act, the Public Service Act and now we are trying to come up with the Public health Service Act. We are dealing with the same people,” said Chikwinya.
Globally countries are working on labour issues, and it has proved that majority of employees across the world have been exploited, being paid little than they ought to get at the end of the month.
Chikwinya in his submission, said this Bill is showing the true colours of the minister of health, being a former military commander and wanting to impose the commandeering into the health sector.
“As I was seated and listening to the presenter on behalf of the committee, you can hear the militants in this Bill. You can hear the militarism of the Hon Minister coming out now in a civil service space, he is trying to exercise his natural militaristic experience which he had in the army, trying to bring it to a civil space,” added Chikwinya.
The Committee’s recommendation to the Bill was to go through another round of consultations because the Bill was rejected by the interested stakeholders and the Ministry of Health and Child Care should withdraw the Bill.
“The committee is of the opinion that a good law must serve the interest of the people and it must be reasonable, it should not be too harsh or rigid. Thus the Health Service Amendment Bill should be recrafted in such a way that protects the health workers”.
Chikwinya debated and said the Bill is simply providing for conditions of a soft genocide.
“Your relatives, my relatives are going to die with no one caring for them in hospitals because we have taken away the right for the people who are supposed to take care of them to speak. Where they are saying we have no bread, let us say we have got half loaf of bread, can you please take it whilst we are working on something?” he suggested.
In its present state, the Bill is retrograssive to the gains made in the health sector.
There is massive brain drain already and the Bill will whip out the few remaining health professionals.
If passed, it will be the final nail in the coffin. Hence, it should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.