ZLHR fights for reinstatement of nurse suspended over pregnancy

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has asked United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) to reinstate a nurse who was suspended from a training programme after a pregnancy test returned a false positive result.

A nurse who counts among the essential service providers exempt from the lockdown makes her way to work in the largely deserted city of Harare on January 5, 2021, after the Zimbabwe government imposed a 30-day lockdown to curb the spread of a second wave of COVID-19 which has to date claimed more than 300 lives. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Authorities at UBH on 17 May 2021, suspended Sibongikosi Jacoline Dube
from participating in a nurse training programme after a pregnancy
test conducted on her as a requirement of the programme reportedly
returned a positive result.

In a letter written to UBH Chief Executive Officer Dr Narcisius
Dzvanga, Jabulani Mhlanga of ZLHR protested against the discrimination
and ill-treatment of the aspiring nurse.

Mhlanga said Dube had advised him that on the day the pregnancy test
was taken, a certain Ms. S Moyo had informed the group of nursing
trainees of a “mix-up” in the test results conducted at a UBH
laboratory.

Mhlanga said after receiving the pregnancy results Dube conducted a
self-test whose results were negative and she informed officials at
UBH of this development.

Dube, Mhlanga said, also undertook further testing at Mpilo Central
Hospital and the results were negative.

But despite the outcome of the second set of the pregnancy test
results and numerous engagements with some UBH officials as well as
some officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dube has
not been reinstated to continue with the nurse training programme.
Mhlanga charged that the decision taken by UBH to keep Dube out of the
training programme was grossly unreasonable and unfair and in
violation of section 68 of the Constitution, which provides for the
right to administrative justice and also in violation of section 3 of
the Administrative Justice Act.

The human rights lawyer said UBH’s policy is contrary to the national
objectives of the Constitution in particular section 17 which provides
that the State must promote the full participation of women in all
spheres of the Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men.

Furthermore, Mhlanga said section 56 of the Constitution affords women
to enjoy the right to equal treatment including the right to equal
opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres and
prohibits unfair treatment or discrimination on the grounds of
pregnancy.

Mhlanga asked UBH to reinstate Dube to continue with the nurse
training programme with immediate effect and also urgently align its
policy to the provisions of the Constitution.

The human rights lawyer said if UBH fails to respond favourably to
Dube’s request, he will institute legal proceedings against the
state-run hospital to assert and protect her constitutionally
enshrined rights.

UBH is yet to respond to Mhlanga’s letter.

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