Unemployed nurses to hold protests next month

Nursing officers Malawi

Unemployed nurses in Malawi will next month hold peaceful protests as they continue to demand President Lazarus Chakwera to intervene on their calls to be employed by Malawi Government or be allowed to go and work in Saudi Arabia and the United States.

These unemployed nursing officers who are about 4000, want government to either employ them on full time basis or allow them to go and work in United States of America and Saudi Arabia where an opportunity arose last year.

However, the Malawi government says it does not have the financial muscle to formally employ these nursing officers who include those that graduated between 2015 and 2021.

The then minister of labor Vera Kamtukule was also quoted in the local media saying the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (NONM) does not have the legal mandate to conduct labour exportation.

Following the developments, the unemployed nursing officers have notified the Lilongwe district council of their intention to hold peaceful protests which have been slated for 7th September, 2023.

According to a notification letter to the council signed by Frank Kamwendo and Promise Malembetsa who are the group’s chairperson and secretary general respectively, the protest will start from Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout, passing through Parliament building to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).

The group says it wants president Chakwera to act on their long overdue concerns regarding either local employment or labour exportation opportunity which NONM lobbied in USA and Saudi Arabia for the jobless nursing officers.

“This letter is presented to you as a notification to inform your humble office that we the unemployed nursing officers have an intention to hold peaceful protest. We want to hold this peaceful protest on 7 September, 2023 in Lilongwe and that we are going direct to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to deliver our concerns so that the president can act on our grievances.

“The purpose of this peaceful demonstrations is to respectfully and democratically request the president of Republic of Malawi, H.E.Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera to intervene on long standing issues which we feel ministries have failed to address,” reads part of the notification letter to the council.

The concerned nursing officers say the protest which will start at 09:00 AM, will see all participating unemployed nursing officers putting on full uniform so as to avoid intruders from joining the peaceful protest.

The group says they have resorted to organizing the protest because government through various officials has downplayed their demands to either employ them right here in Malawi or allow them to work from abroad.

“We have met officials from concerned ministries but they have failed to help us hence requesting the President to help. Unemployed nursing officers have been in direct contact with officials from ministry of health, labour and local government with the aim of seeking formal employment (not recruiting some through locums, internships or upkeep) or in an event that the government fails to recruit nursing officers then we ask for labour exportation of nursing officers.

“Ministries have been coy on possible recruitment of nursing officers and on labour exportation hence we feel grieved. As unemployed nursing officers, we firmly believe that it is our duty as responsible citizens to express our grievances and advocate for a positive change through peaceful means,” reads another part of the letter.

The group has since requested the District Commissioner’s cooperation and support in facilitating a safe and organized protest and has vowed to maintain peace during their protest.