Knives are out for Minister of Health and Wellness (MOHW) Dr Alfred Madigele, whom the newly re-elected president of Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) Obonolo Rahube has accused of failing nurses by ignoring their invitations for consultation.
Nurses want Dr Madigele -a medical doctor by profession, whom they praised as the right man for the job when he ascended the post, relieved of his duties accusing him of failing to heed their calls for engagement on several occasions. Nurses say they are fed up with the minister because he has failed dismally to address their grievances ever since he took office.
The call to drop Dr Madigele from cabinet was made at a BONU congress held in Palapye on Tuesday, following shortly after a petition was recently handed to his office. The Palapye congress was attended by Vice president Slumber Tsogwane. Coincidentaly, two days later President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced a cabinet reshuffle dropping assistant Minister of Health Biggie Butale and replacing him with Setlhomo Lelatisitswe. Dr Madigele survived the chop.
Rahube said they are not happy with Madigele's carefree attitude when addressing issues affecting nurses as demonstrated by his failure to honour an invitation to attend nurses' day celebrations. “Madigele has failed nurses since he took over the ministry. We are not happy with his conduct for not taking serious the issues which affect nurses despite numerous representation to his office. This is how seriously incompetent the minister is," said Rahube, reiterating the need for review of nurses pay structure after consultation with relevant stakeholders, with the minister on board.
He said Madigele should pull us his socks or else be relieved of his portfolio because working conditions of nurses have deteriorated under his watch. Rahube contends that they have long sent the union’s proposed pay structure to the ministry in July 2018 and no feedback has been given to date without any engagement from the permanent secretary or the minister.
Efforts to reach minister Madigele proved futile as his mobile phone rang unanswered.
BONU has urged government to reinstate the nurses that were fired during the 2011 lengthy public servants strike.
Fired nurses had then moved to look for greener pastures in Namibia.
The workers were then demanding a 16% salary hike, but eventually accepted 3% increase, after the government said it could not a larger hike demand by the workers.
BONU contends that the rehiring of the nurses will address current acute shortage of nurses in the public service health.
BONU has since slapped the minister of health with petition on the 26th April demanding that the minister should have acceded to the union’s call within 30 days’ time.
Some of the demands from the petition include that safety of the nurses at the work places should be a priority and long term plan for the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Installation of electronic security devices such as CCTV, alarms, panic buttons and access cards at all health care facilities is also demand by BONU as a way of tightening security for the nurses.
BONU ‘ call for safety of nurses comes out following the barbaric assault incident on one of the nurses at Extension II Clinic in Gaborone earlier on the year.
The crime was committed when the particular nurse was on duty and her sole purpose being to attend to the health needs of the nation.