THE Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA’s) executive committee members have claimed receiving death threats and bribery attempts from well-known individuals who wanted to coerce them into ditching their fight for salary increases for Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH).
LNA secretary general ‘Mamonica Mokhesi said this on Thursday after the announcement that former QMMH nurses would next month be absorbed by the government.
Health minister Semano Sekatle on Thursday announced that the government has resolved to absorb 276 former Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) nurses and nursing assistants.
The 276 nurses and nursing assistants were dismissed by QMMH after a protracted strike to press for a salary review last month. Although the Labour Court had directed the two parties to find an amicable solution, the nurses refused to return to work and the employer immediately initiated moves to dismiss them.
The workers were demanding salaries that are equal to those of their counterparts in government and Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) hospitals who earn about M13 000 while they earned about M9000.
Opened in 2011, QMMH is owned by the government but is run by the Tšepong Consortium comprising of five other companies. The government announced last month that it was cutting ties with the Tšepong Consortium.
Ms Mokhesi said while they were jubilant about the nurses’ victory, the journey has not been easy as some tried to coerce her and association president Raphael Tlali into ditching the protests.
“The president and I could have been millionaires by now but we refused to sell-out our profession,” Ms Mokhesi said.
“We did not have the conscience to sell-out the nursing profession. We received death threats but we remained steadfast until we conquered.”
Ms Mokhesi could however, not be drawn into revealing the identities of the people who issued the death threats. Neither could she reveal who offered to bribe them.
“We know the people who threatened to kill us and those who tried to bribe us but we will not reveal their names. Revealing their names could threaten the country’s security.” She however, did not say how revealing the identities of those who threatened them and those who tried to bribe the LNA leadership could destabilise the country.
Ms Mokhesi expressed gratitude to Health minister Semano Sekatle and fellow ministers who were part of a sub-committee set up by the government to address the nurses’ grievances. She said minister had shown selflessness by attending countless meeting at odd hours trying to assist the nurses.
“Today we thank them for their commitment and efforts. Sometimes we called them at odd hours and they would always avail themselves for meetings. In some instances, meetings would go on until after midnight,” Ms Mokhesi said.
Meanwhile, Mr Sekatle on Thursday announced that the 276 of the fired nurses will be deployed to different health facilities across the country and are expected to start work on 1 May.
“We are glad that today (Thursday) we announce that the government has instructed the ministry of health to hire all the fired nurses,” Mr Sekatle said adding: “They are expected to start work on 1 May”.
“We have 250 vacancies at various health facilities that need to be filled. So, we are not going to have a problem because in the 2021/2022 financial year budget for the Health ministry, there are fund allocated to fill up the vacancies.”
For her part, the director general of health services in the Health ministry Nyane Letsie said the newly recruited nurses will strengthen the health system’s weak points.
Dr Letsie said the recruitments will also help the government open defunct health facilities in remote parts of the country.
Mr Sekatle was accompanied by the Minister of Public Service Motlohi Maliehe whose ministry is working closely with the Health ministry in hiring the fired nurses.
For his part, Mr Tlali expressed his happiness and urged the nurses to work hard in their new posts.
“Work hard, show your capabilities. Ensure that you do not embarrass us because all we want is better services for the public while your wellbeing is also assured,” Mr Tlali said.