By Clayton Shereni
The staff at Gaths Mine Hospital, which was taken over by Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) and turned into a COVID-19 isolation center, were recently sent on forced leave effective July 1, 2020.
The Matron in Charge and other senior workers were all sent on forced leave and no communication has been given by the authorities as to when they would be back to work.
One of the workers who spoke to TellZim News confirmed being sent on leave but referred further questions to Doctor Jefferson Makoni, who is said to be the one in charge of the hospital operations.
“Yes we have been sent on forced leave starting July 1, 2020 but you can talk to Dr Makoni he is the one who can tell you what you need to know,” said one of the staff on condition of anonymity.
Dr Makoni refused to comment on the matter and directed all questions to SMM Holdings top management.
SMM Holdings Human Resources manager Catherine Nyambiya said she didn’t want to comment on the matter stating that she wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
“I’m not authorized to speak to you. I’m not the employer so I won’t give you any comment, you can go on and write what you want,” said Nyambiya.
Chirandu Dhlembeu, SMM Holdings CEO refused to comment on the issue saying his workers have to make use of internal channels of communication.
“My workers do not come through the newspaper, we have a formal channel of communication. If there are issues they want to clarify with us they can make use of that,” said Dhlembeu.
Sources have however, alleged that the staff which have been sent on leave will not get any salaries and ruled out any possibility of the workers getting back to work since GZU had taken over the hospital.
The move has been heavily criticized with former mine workers who said that this will leave the community vulnerable since the hospital was a referral centre for the Mashava catchment area.
Hundreds of people in Mashava are at the verge of defaulting their monthly Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) after the only hospital which was serving the Mashava community was recently turned into a Covid-19 isolation facility and the hospital staff sent on unpaid leave.
One of the hospital workers who is also a victim of the forced leave, spoke to TellZim News on condition of anonymity and said there are hundreds of former mine workers, their spouses and children who risk not getting treatment.
“We have a lot of people on ART and this will leave them vulnerable because they were collecting their treatment so with the current situation where the facility now focuses on COVID-19 issues only and turning away locals, this will turn out nasty if nothing is done to cater for these people,” said the worker.
SMM Holdings and its employees have been at loggerheads in recent years over unpaid salaries and wages which date back to 2012 but the company has reportedly gone bankrupt.