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Zimbabwean government fires striking nurses

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga says their dismissal is in the interest of saving lives, adding they’ll be replaced by newly-trained nurses and nurses recalled from retirement.

FILE: Zimbabwe vice president Constantino Chiwenga. Picture: AFP

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has fired thousands of striking nurses in a move criticised as unconstitutional.

The nurses went on strike on Monday over poor pay and working conditions and their action has affected operations at major hospitals and clinics.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga says the nurses reneged on an agreement to return to work on Tuesday.

He says the government released $17 million to meet nurses’ demands and their decision to continue with their strike was politically motivated.

Chiwenga says their dismissal is in the interest of saving lives; he says they’ll be replaced by newly-trained nurses, and nurses recalled from retirement.

Lawyers and activists have criticised the dismissals, saying that the nurses were fired for exercising their constitutional rights.

The Zimbabwe Nurses Association has told its members to remain calm; saying nothing has changed and the strike is ongoing.