In the face of an alarming exodus of African health workers to Europe and the United States, a top Zimbabwean health official has been caught receiving bribes from nurses who are seeking employment abroad, reports Alfred Olufemi.
A director at the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care, Robert Mudyiradima, is standing trial for allegedly taking a US$1 000 bribe from a nurse to expedite the processing of a Nurses' Verification Certificate.
The certificate is a prerequisite for nurses seeking employment in other countries, but Zimbabwean authorities suspended the issuance of the documents in a bid to stop nurses from leaving government’s employ.
Mudyiradima was arrested on 1 February after a sting operation at the ministry’s offices where one of his accomplices received the bribe.
According to police, in November 2021, Ruramai Chatira, a nurse at Wheelerdale Clinic in Seke received information that a woman named Winnie Kanyedze could facilitate the acquisition of a verification certificate from the ministry.
After discussions with Kanyedze, Chatira was charged US$1 000 to get the certificate. Kanyedze then got the executive assistant to the ministry’s permanent secretary, Abigail Tsitsi Maregere, to convince Mudyiradima to arrange the release of Chatira’s certificate.
Police detectives set a trap with the help of Chatira, and caught Kanyedze receiving the money. Chatira’s certificate and another one, signed and issued by Mudyiradima, were found in Kanyedze’s possession.
Mudyiradima was arraigned at the Harare Magistrates Court and was granted bail of ZW$50 000; he is set to appear in court on 3 March for the continuation of the trial.
Section 170 of the Zimbabwe Criminal Law Act stipulates a fine up to three times the amount in question and a jail term not exceeding 20 years for any public official convicted of bribery.
“... a fine not exceeding level fourteen or not exceeding three times the value of any consideration obtained or given in the course of the crime, whichever is the greater; or imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years; or both,” the law states.
Away from the criminal trial, experts have decried the flow of health professionals to Western countries with a shortage of clinical skills. Since Brexit, many Europeans have left the UK and now Africa has become the hunting ground for skills.
The UK, which is facing one of the most severe healthcare worker shortages in the world, is targeting nurses from African countries with promises of a greener pasture. The offers, enticing because of the poor conditions of service in health workers’ home countries, have contributed to the brain drain in some African nations.
This situation is not new, though. To prevent skills shortages in their own country, the Ghanaian government once placed a controversial ban on newly qualified nurses travelling to find more lucrative employment abroad. Although now reversed, the ban was introduced over a decade ago when the West African country was suffering from a shortfall of nurses as many headed off to better opportunities in the West.
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please clickhere
Copyright : Re-publication of this article is authorised only in the following circumstances; the writer and Africa Legal are both recognised as the author and the website address www.africa-legal.com and original article link are back linked. A bio for the writer can be provided on request.