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Zim Healthcare Workers Face Jail for Walkouts

FILE: Virginia Mutsamwira, 52, a senior nurse, looks on at a small grocery shop she runs at her home to supplement her nursing income for her extended family of eight in Harare, to make ends meet. Taken April 25, 2022.

Zimbabwe on Tuesday signed a bill into law that outlawed organized protests by healthcare workers who could now face a fine or an imprisonment of up to six months.

The signing by President Emmerson Mnangagwa comes after health workers were locked in a protracted fight with the government over poor salaries last year.

Thousands of nurses and doctors at state-run hospitals in the southern African country went on strike last year demanding a hefty raise and wages in U.S. dollars due to a slide in the local currency and steep inflation that eroded the value of their earnings.

Many nurses in Zimbabwe earn less than $100 a month.

An exodus of doctors and nurses has left Zimbabwean hospitals understaffed, with over 4,000 health workers leaving the country since 2021, the country's Health Services Board said in November.