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Striking Zimbabwe Nurses Face Charges Of Causing 'Disturbance'

Four striking Zimbabwean nurses arrested on Monday were released Tuesday after being charged with "uttering" words that caused a disturbance, their lawyer said, and accused the state of bringing the charges to pressure for a return to work.

Lawyer Charles Kwaramba said police charged his clients yesterday under a section of Zimbabwe's draconian Public Order and Security Act which has been repealed. On Tuesday they were charged under a section of the Criminal Law Reform Act which makes it a crime to “utter” words that cause disturbances.

Sources among striking nurses said the arrests were intended to intimidate them into returning to work. Most of the nurses at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals in Harare have returned to work, though the government has made no concessions.

The nurses, like resident doctors in the main public hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo, seek significant pay increases to help them cope with inflation over 1,200%.

Kwaramba told reporter Carole Gombakomba that the arrests of the four nurses were intended to send a message to all striking health care workers.

There was no solution in sight in the strike by doctors, now in its seventh week.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...