Apr 21, 2018 Last Updated 2:12 PM, Apr 20, 2018

Zimbabwe’s former army chief Constantino Chiwenga has fired more than 15,000 nurses who went on strike to demand better wages.

Mr Chiwenga led the military takeover last November that resulted in the overthrow of President Robert Mugabe – and is now vice-president.

In a statement, he said money had been released to the health ministry to pay outstanding allowances to the striking nurse on Monday, but they had not returned to work.

While this demonstrates good faith in the part of government, the prompt transfers which have been effected against demonstrable economic challenges facing the country, has not quite surprisingly persuaded the striking nurses to go back to their stations in the interest of saving lives and helping helpless patients under their care.

The government now regards this lack of remorse as politically motivated and thus as going beyond concerns of conditions of service and worker welfare.”

The decision to fire them had been taken "in the interest of patients and of saving lives", the vice-president said.

According to Zimbabwe's Independent Online new site, this strike comes after the government gave in to doctors’ demands and increased their salaries and allowances following a month-long strike that had crippled the health sector.

More than 5,000 people have attended the burial of Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in his home village after he died of colon cancer.

The burial was marred by divisions in the party he formed and led, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Crowds booed two leaders challenging the appointment of Nelson Chamisa as the party's acting president.

Mr Tsvangirai, a fierce opponent of Zanu-PF's 37-year rule, died of colon cancer on 14 February aged 65.

Kenya's main opposition leader Raila Odinga attended the burial, having previously hailed Mr Tsvangirai as someone who fought for "justice for his country and his people despite the firm hands of dictatorship that held sway".

Kenya's immigration department had barred two allies of Mr Odinga, Senator James Orengo and businessman Jimi Wanjigi, from flying to Zimbabwe for the burial, saying the pair had failed to present a court order overturning a suspension of their passports.

The department later reversed its decision.

Mr Tsvangirai was lowered to his final resting place, beside his first wife Susan, in Buhera, some 200km (124 miles) from the capital, Harare.

Even in grief, the tensions within the MDC are apparent, as rival factions battle for control of the party, reports the BBC's Shingai Nyoka from Harare.

MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora were booed by some mourners for opposing Mr Chamisa's appointment as acting party leader.

Some believe the MDC could split following Mr Tsvangirai's death, while others say it could re-energise itself under a new leadership, our correspondent says.

Zimbabwe is due to hold general elections later this year, the first since President Emmerson Mnangagwa forced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe to step down in November.

Mr Tsvangirai's career was marked by a long political struggle against Mr Mugabe. He was beaten and imprisoned numerous times.

In the 2008 election, Mr Tsvangirai gained the most votes in the first round but not enough to win outright.

Before the second round of voting, Mr Mugabe's security forces carried out a campaign of violence against opposition supporters, and Mr Tsvangirai withdrew.

Mr Mugabe was declared the winner, but an international outcry over allegations of violence and vote-rigging led to a power sharing agreement in which Mr Tsvangirai would serve as prime minister.

Mr Tsvangirai ran against Mr Mugabe again in 2013 but lost by a landslide.

The vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the awarding of a doctorate to former first lady Grace Mugabe.

Levi Nyagura was detained by the country's anti-corruption agency, to be charged with abuse of office.

Mrs Mugabe was awarded a PhD just months after enrolling in 2014, despite it usually taking years to complete.

An investigation was launched after a petition was made by university staff.

Members of the sociology department said they had not seen supporting evidence, and called for the nullification of her qualification and a full investigation.

The PhD's authenticity was questioned because her thesis was not published alongside others at the time.

The document was only published online in January this year, four years after she graduated, and has been the subject of intense speculation since.

She was awarded the qualification by her husband and then-President Robert Mugabe, who was also the chancellor of the university at the time.

The doctorate title was used on campaign material for Mrs Mugabe as she became increasingly involved in politics.

In November Robert Mugabe was ousted from office after 37 years of rule amid growing speculation his wife was lining herself up to replace her aging husband in power.

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is critically ill in a South African hospital, reports say.

Local media quoted family sources as saying the 65-year-old former prime minister - who is being treated for colon cancer - is suffering from weight loss, exhaustion and muscle thinning.

Mr Tsvangirai's MDC party says reports about his health are exaggerated.

During his political struggle against ex-President Robert Mugabe, he has been beaten and imprisoned numerous times.

Mr Tsvangirai has been in and out of hospital since June, receiving treatment in a Johannesburg hospital for cancer. He returned to the hospital early last month.

His health deteriorated rapidly on Monday, family sources told Zimbabwe's Bulawayo24 news website on Tuesday.

Mr Tsvangirai had lost appetite and had difficulty eating or swallowing fluids, the sources said. He also reportedly had breathing problems.

Meanwhile, a senior Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party member who refused to be identified told the BBC that Mr Tsvangirai was in poor health - but that he was conscious and speaking.

The party was waiting for further updates from South Africa's main city, Johannesburg, where Mr Tsvangiari was being treated, the source added.

Earlier, Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka was quoted as saying the MDC leader was "stable but the nation should keep on praying".

The hospital where Mr Tsvangirai is being treated has so far made no public comments on the issue.

Last November, Mr Tsvangirai hailed the resignation of Robert Mugabe, expressing hopes that Zimbabwe was on a "new trajectory" that would include free and fair elections.

He said that Mr Mugabe - who was forced to quit after ruling the country for 37 years - should be allowed to "go and rest for his last days".

Zimbabwe's long-time leader Robert Mugabe will be "left in peace" with a "lucrative" retirement package, his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

However, Mr Mnangagwa also told the BBC's Mishal Husain that no-one had been granted immunity from prosecution.

Many Zimbabweans are hoping Mr Mugabe and his family, who became known for their extravagant lifestyles, would be held to account for their actions.

Mr Mugabe was ousted in November following 37 years in power.

In that time, Zimbabwe fell from being known as the breadbasket of Africa to a country which struggled to feed its population. Meanwhile, Mr Mugabe's wife became known as "Gucci Grace" for her love of luxury goods.

Mr Mugabe and his members of his government, including Mr Mnangagwa, have also been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including killing, beating and raping opposition activists. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Mnangagwa, a former ally of Mr Mugabe who fell from favour before returning to Zimbabwe to become its president two months ago, has promised to clean up corruption within the ruling class.

However, while he told the BBC he had "not given anyone any immunity", he added: "The new administration will do everything possible to make sure the family lives in peace, undisturbed."

The president said his predecessor had been given "a very lucrative package", which included many of the luxuries Mr Mugabe had become used to - including cars, secretaries, first-class travel and trips to Singapore, where he sees doctors.

Mr Mnangagwa would not be drawn on the cost of the package, which had a rumoured value of $10m (£7m).

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