Forward Nyanyiwa Correspondent
On November 24 2017, President Mnangagwa ushered in the Second Republic with a maiden inauguration speech which was pregnant with pragmatism and divorced from the flowery language his predecessor Robert Mugabe had mastered since 1980.
Cracking the whip, President Mnangagwa thundered: “To our civil servants, it cannot be business as usual. You now have to roll up your sleeves in readiness to deliver. We have an economy to recover, a people to serve. Each and every one of us must now earn every hour, every week and every month at work. Gone are the days of absenteeism and desultory application, days of unduly delaying and forestalling decisions and services in the hope of extorting dirty rewards.”
So powerful and candid was the speech such that to an ordinary man, one would have thought it was directed to Government employees only, but to those with a listening ear, they will tell you the speech cut across all the classes of workers.
President Mnangagwa did not end there. After securing his legitimacy following his historic election victory in 2018, he gave another inauguration speech whose tone was firm and captured the ears of neutrals.
“There is need for modernisation and revamping of our social services sector to improve efficiency and quality service delivery . . . ” President Mnangagwa said then much to the approval of thousands of Zimbabweans who had braved the scorching heat and thronged the National Sports Stadium that unforgettable day of August 24 2018 and the millions of Zimbabweans who followed the proceedings on television.
While the two separate excerpts of the speeches were well received by all and sundry in the country, it seems no one from the Nurses’ Council of Zimbabwe (NCZ) heard of them or they might have heard them or read about it but, sadly, decided to stubbornly ignore.
One has to be at their 16 Dale Road, Marlborough, offices or more precisely to be a nurse to appreciate this conclusion.
It has become increasingly tiring to be a nurse in Zimbabwe and a nightmare to visit the NCZ offices for any business, credit to their modus operandi.
Background is key.
The NCZ is a nurse regulatory body whose its roles and functions include but not limited to registering qualified nurses, regulating their conduct, regulating their training and examinations and implementing Govenment policy on issues pertaining to nurse administration in Zimbabwe.
Thus nurses in Zimbabwe and abroad pay a certain term amount to the council so as to renew their practising certificates and to remain on the nurses’ ‘register.
Apart from paying to renew their certificates, nurses are also supposed to fill in some booklets and get some “points” which will indicate that they are practising and are abreast with the current trends in this ever diversifying profession.
Those in the Diaspora do the same and there is also the issue of verification of whether one is a practitioner, which is also done at the council.
The council, which was established under the new Health Professions Act (Chapter 27:18), caters for more than 50 000 nurses dotted around Zimbabwe and in the Diaspora.
Sadly, the council has one office and not in central Harare, but some 20km off the Central Business District going westwards, in Marlborough.
All the nurses from Tsholotsho, Victoria Falls, Nyaminyami in Kariba, Tsodzo in Buhera, Jekwa in Murehwa and Manchester in England must visit the said office either to renew their registration or to get “points” for their booklets.
It is against such a background that being a nurse has become a nightmare for many.
The NCZ is still using “catalogue” in this era. Simply put, the sad reality is that NCZ knows no technology.
A registered nurse is supposed to visit the said office in Harare with a recent expired practising certificate because their machines don’t have information as to when one last paid for registration.
Failure to bring one such last paid certificate either by misplacing it or forgetting it, you are supposed to pay from the last time you have any certificate which was paid up.
Thus if you misplace a 2018 paper and you only have a 2012 paper, your arrears are calculated from 2012. Never mind that you paid in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. If you don’t have those paid certificates you are doomed.
Their machines don’t have such information either.
This is despite the fact that you have travelled all the way from Bulawayo.
The same happens with the booklets. If the council is not satisfied with date stamps or “workshop hours” in the booklet, one does not get a practising certificate and again sadly, irregardless of where you have come from.
The service at their offices is pathetic. If you happen to have subscribed for certificate renewal with EcoCash, you must have ready with you the date and message.
Never mind you paid while you were still at your station wherever in Zimbabwe.
Simply put, NCZ is not online.
Most organisations in Zimbabwe are decentralising but that seems a remote possibility with the NCZ. Apart from their Harare office, there is no other office in Zimbabwe.
Of the 10 provinces in the country and given the number of practising and registered nurses, the council has to have offices countrywide.
It has been hectic for nurses to come to Harare and do their business with NCZ when they can do that in their provinces or even districts.
Many companies have borrowed from President Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech and they are modernising and revamping their social services for the ease of doing business.
Nurses in the Diaspora are not sopared either s they are spending fortunes sending friends and relatives who unfortunately fall victim to the ancient services at NCZ.
Apart from a skeletal staff complement which usually causes unduly delays, the council is still operating in an ancient framework were they major in the use of pens rather than computers.
It is high time the council decentralised to serve it’s key publics more efficiently.
Most schools and colleges are currently techno-savvy such that registration is now done online.
NCZ is a big institution which must now adopt technology as a matter of urgency. Online platforms will allow nurses in the Diaspora to meet their professional obligations with much ease.
By decentralising and using different online platforms, NCZ can reach out to those who have been finding it difficult to visit Harare and also prevent practitioners from practising without valid certificates.
The recent waiver in registration arrears can be used as a yardstick to gauge how many nurses have been practising without valid papers.
It is also high time NCZ had robust platforms to interact with its stakeholders. Currently, the council is operating without a public relations office. A Google search on their operations yields nothing and not many nurses are alive to NCZ’s roles and functions apart from knowing that they register nurses.
This writer has on several occasions sought the ear of authorities at NCZ but with little joy. They don’t respond to emails and they are also “absent” on voice calls.
Nursing remains one of the key variables in Zimbabwe’s quest to attain Vision 2030 and it therefore calls for proper administration.
There is urgent need for the NCZ to up their act and strive to meet world standards. Nursing is ever diversifying but, surprisingly, NCZ is stagnant.