President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday signed the Health Services Amendment Act into law, preventing health workers from striking for longer than 72 continuous hours or over 72 hours in 14 days. The act also states that striking health workers must provide written notice 48 hours before a collection action begins and must provide emergency services while on strike. Union representatives who defy this law are subject to punishment of up to 6 months of jail time. The law comes in the wake of a health service worker crisis in Zimbabwe. A Health Services Board (HSB) official told Reuters that over 4,000 nurses and doctors left Zimbabwe in 2021 in search of better working conditions. In addition to the stress this reduction in the workforce has had on Zimbabwe’s health care system, health care workers in Zimbabwe argue that their pay has failed to keep up with inflation.As of December 2022, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) reports that the inflation in Zimbabwe is expected to get worse as Zimbabwe’s festive season ends and the country contends with “widespread and prolonged national power cuts … negatively impacting most sectors of the economy.” Accordingly, labor rates are below normal, as even households that are better off have limited abilities to pay in cash. The FEWS NET rates the majority of Zimbabwe as in the crisis phase of acute food insecurity.Health care workers in Zimbabwe have had success striking in the past. In April 2020, the workers went on strike and secured more protective equipment for doctors and nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Human Rights Watch now reports that, Zimbabwean authorities intentionally slow internet access during demonstrations, pass laws that that threaten the freedom of association and do not investigate “abductions, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses against opposition politicians and activists.”

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