Several nurses were arrested at Harare Central Hospital in Zimbabwe on Monday by security forces ahead of announced protests demanding the government provide nurses with financial rights, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZNA) said.

“At the time of the arrests, no demonstrations had begun,” the ZNA said in a statement. “If ever we were in doubt about the nature of the government’s response to our genuine plight, this is the clearest evidence we could have got”.

“Firstly, Government promised upward salary reviews and COVID-19 allowances which have not been paid. Secondly, Government proceeded to refuse to discuss improving the reviews and instead rendered the Bipartite negotiations panel useless by unilaterally declaring that it was not willing to negotiate for the next three months,” the association said.

“Thirdly, and currently, we are now being victimized for utilising the only option available to us by being arrested. We have a right to peacefully show our displeasure with employer,” the ZNA said.

“We have lost our earning already through slave wages and so we have nothing more to lose,” the statement read.

The association called on all nurses to strike in support for their arrested colleagues for demanding their immediate release and payment of their in US dollars as they were paid in October 2018.

“NO USD, NO WORK!!!” they warned.

According to the Zim Live local website, the number of arrested nurses is 13.

The Zimbabwean authorities have confirmed so far some 716 COVID-19 cases with eight recorded deaths, according to data compiled by the US-based John Hopkins University.

Since first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil and Russia are currently the hardest-hit countries.  

The pandemic has killed more than 535,100 people worldwide, with infections surpassing 11.49 million and recoveries over 6.21 million.

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