Zimbabwe has fired all nurses who were on strike to demand higher salaries, in a hardline response to growing labour arrest by the country’s new leadership.

Several thousand nurses were sacked in a terse statement issued on Tuesday evening by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who accused the strikers of being “politically motivated”.

Patients were turned away from major hospitals this week after the nurses began their industrial action, weeks after doctors had ended their own strike.

“Government has decided in the interest of patients and of saving lives to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect,” Chiwenga said in a statement. He said unemployed and retired nurses would be hired to replace those fired.

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