Striking doctors remain defiant

HARARE - Hospital doctors, who have been on strike for the second week running, have insisted they will not report for duty until they get an audience with the Finance ministry and their concerns addressed.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president Edgar Munatsi told the Daily News that they no longer want to negotiate with the Health ministry, but the Treasury.

This comes as the industrial action triggered fierce debate in Parliament yesterday, with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa acknowledging that the situation was dire.

Munatsi argued “the Health ministry is the one that is saying there is no money, but we know they do not handle money.

“We want to talk to the Finance ministry instead”.

“We will not go to work until our issues are addressed,” he said, adding that their “demands are not something new.

“It’s something that was agreed on since 2014”.

“We know they say the health sector provides essential services and so we must not strike, but they should also prioritise the sector.”

He said “government is also trying to stretch us for long by calling in uniformed forces, but we are not going to budge and we are determined”.

The doctors are demanding the opening up of post internship positions after government imposed a recruitment freeze.

They also want the authorities to release the junior doctors’ practicing certificates and the increase of on-call allowances from $1 per hour to $10.

Also, they want a duty-free facility for the importation of cars.

“We have made headway concerning the post internship posts as government said they had opened up 250 posts, we are, however, waiting for a list of those posts. We also want duty-free facilities on the importation of cars, because as it is 80 percent of doctors cannot afford to buy cars here, and imagine when we are called in to attend to emergencies in the middle of the night and they have to get cabs,” Munatsi said.

In Parliament, Mkoba (MDC) legislator Amos Chibaya and other opposition MPs asked Mnangagwa during question and answer session what government was doing to avert the situation as people where dying due to lack of health care services in public hospitals.

Mnangagwa said in addition to the deployment of doctors from the uniformed forces, government was negotiating and pleading with doctors to return to work.

“Yes, the situation is dire; we are trying to work out how the issues can be resolved,” Mnangagwa said. 

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