Health ministry “frustrates” unemployed nursing officers’ demos

Nursing officers Malawi

Unemployed nursing officers in Malawi have accused the ministry of health of frustrating their planned peaceful protests which were scheduled for today.

Last month, these unemployed nursing officers who are about 4000, notified the Lilongwe district council of their intention to hold peaceful protests today, 7th September, 2023.

The protests were aimed at demanding President Lazarus Chakwera’s intervention on their calls to either be employed by Malawi Government or be allowed to go and work in Saudi Arabia and the United States.

However, the Lilongwe District Council told the unemployed nursing officers to postpone the planned protests saying the Ministry of Health is very much willing to engage them.

In a response latter dated 4th September, 2023, signed by Lilongwe district commissioner Lawford Palani, the council said it will facilitate a meeting with all the concerned parties.

“Kindly note that following the discussion at the stakeholders meeting with you the following issues were raised: That the Secretary for Health’s office is ready and willing to engage you on the issues raised.

“The District Commissioner’s office will facilitate the said engagement process. It is against this background that it has been resolved that your intended peaceful protest be postponed,” reads part of Lilongwe District Council response.

But in an interview with Malawi24, chairperson for the unemployed nursing officers Frank Kamwendo said the meeting which was held on Wednesday, 6th September, 2023, was fruitless.

He said Principal Secretary for Ministry of health Dr Samson Mndolo, openly told the meeting which was also attended by National Organization of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (NONM) Executive Director Peter Mvuma that they are against the demonstration.

Kamwendo further added that the ministry seem to have no solution to their grievance and indicated that they will proceed with their planned peaceful protests where they will be asking president Chakwera to rescue them.

“I can confirm to you that we attended the meeting today (Wednesday) but alas. The PS wanted to frustrate our demos, he openly said he didn’t want the demos to happen. We’ve had that meeting today. But the ministry has no solutions to our concerns,

“At this point, we have decided to write to the DC to call for fresh demos having postponed tomorrow’s (Thursday) demo. We’re dismayed with what the PS has just said to us in the meeting. We hope the ministry can do better. We will go straight to the president with our grievances through peaceful demos,” said Kamwendo.

The Malawi Government has been arguing that 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 labour 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.