Scores of nurses demonstrated in Zimbabwe’s capital on Friday after the government fired 16,000 of them from public hospitals for demanding better working conditions and higher pay.
The protest, during which the nurses offered a free clinic to passers-by, was a test of the new government’s attitude toward public demonstrations. Police looked on but did not interfere.
The collapsed economy is a major challenge facing President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office in November after a military intervention ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule. Mugabe’s government responded harshly to protests.
The mass firing of nurses has led to the shutdown of major public hospitals, weakening an already dire health sector across the country.
“What we are doing is not political. What we are doing is for us and the patients back at home,” one of the nurses, Patricia Bombera, told the crowd of supporters in Harare.
They addressed letters to the country’s vice president demanding that they be reinstated.
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