ED panics . . . cuts leave short

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forced to cut short his vacation to deal with the crisis in the health sector where junior doctors have been on a month-long industrial action, which is costing lives.

In a statement, Mnangagwa said he ended his annual leave to directly engage his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, over the crisis that followed the collapse of negotiations between the doctors and government three days ago.

“I have cut short my leave to be in immediate and active consultation with the acting president in resolving the situation in the health sector,” reads part of the statement.

Chiwenga, in his capacity as acting president, had been tasked by Mnangagwa with resolving the impasse between the State and the junior doctors who are pressing for improved working conditions and better pay.

Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo has been reporting directly to Chiwenga on this matter, but with no progress having been made so far and the strike now almost a month old, Mnangagwa now wants to handle the issue himself.

The Daily News has it on good authority that the Joint Operations Command (JOC) — the supreme organ for the co-ordination of State security in Zimbabwe — met last weekend to discuss the dire situation in the health delivery sector.

Political analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said the reaction by Mnangagwa betrays panic in the wake of rising public disenchantment in his administration.

On Monday, the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC indicated its desire to march to State House to demand “a return to legitimacy” having accused Mnangagwa of rigging his way to power in presidential elections held on July 30 last year.

Teachers are also planning to demonstrate when schools open next week to demand an improvement in their working conditions.

“It is a sign of panic but he (Mnangagwa) has done the right thing to come back and deal with the doctors’ issue that has created a medical emergency,” said Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst.

“Obviously, Chiwenga has no diplomatic and civil skills. He is a soldier who understands more of warfare tactics than diplomacy and skill required for statecraft. So Mnangagwa is right to take over resolution of the issue from his lieutenant,” he added.

United Kingdom-based political analysts Alex Magaisa described Mnangagwa’s decision as a polite way of telling his deputy that he had performed dismally in his absence.

“‘I have had to cut my vacation because my deputy has failed to handle the crisis in the health sector’. That’s it, in a nutshell, without all the diplomatic frou-frou,” Magaisa wrote on his Twitter handle.

South African-based analyst Ricky Mukonza weighed in, saying Mnangagwa’s return was “indeed a polite way of telling his number two that he has failed”.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told the Daily News yesterday that his boss was concerned with the loss of life in public hospitals.

He rubbished claims that Mnangagwa’s return to work was a no-confidence vote in Chiwenga’s ability to handle the situation.

“If you are in acting capacity, there are certain things that an acting president cannot do. But also critically, where there is loss of life, it would be callous for a president to pretend everything is normal,” Charamba said.

He said the labour unrest had taken political overtones, saying there was now a challenge to the authority of the State.

“We are upping the ante,” Charamba said. “No more demos at hospitals. It’s a cynical way of relating to the sick. You don’t make noise to patients in their dying hours.”

Asked why government cannot just pay the doctors in foreign currency to put an end to the unrest, Charamba retorted:

“Because those things cannot be done. If they want to earn US dollars, they must expatriate themselves. We work through budgetary cycles. Their on-call allowances were reviewed last year. We don’t pay workers in US dollars, if you want US dollars, expatriate yourself to a jurisdiction where that is possible.”

Charamba said government has done everything in its power to meet the doctors demands.

“We had to bring in secretary for Finance into the talks, a representative of the reserve bank to back up commitments before the bipartite meeting. We bent backwards, but then they took that for a weakness,” a tough-talking Charamba said.

He said the protests had been hijacked by civil society and the political opposition, which was hell-bent on unseating a constitutionally-elected government.

Comments (7)

Loss of life has all of a sudden become important in 2019, this is a good sign. Such concern from our president must be acknowledged as a plus. Keep it up Mr. President.

ADF - 3 January 2019

I think the New Dispensation is out of its depth. This is not the time to put lipstick on the pig. Difficult decisions must be made. First the abundance of cash courtesy of the extortionist 2 % tax - the vast majority of taxpayers I talked to do not mind paying the doctors a realist bond note salary - and we must accept the reality - the landslide loss of value since the disputed elections. I wish 10% of the MPs would be real man and women - they are dead silent in this crisis! Will they ever find a voice....praise singing at the 2019 December congress?

Bob is Best - 3 January 2019

A properly trained soldier to the highest rank of General has no limitations, is equipped with competences to deal with ANY situation our beloved Chiwenga failed an intermediate military course, promotions have been on partisan politics hence his dismal failure to handle the ensuing crisis. ED was aware Chiwenga would fail this was just to expose him (Chiwenga) further. It is outright stupidity for Charamba and his government to continue thinking they can pamper themselves with lavish lifestyles while everyone else wallows in abject poverty.

Sinyo - 4 January 2019

I wish these guys knew that they have failed and just step down.how many generations do they wanna ruin ?

Loard Knows - 4 January 2019

Usually 3 - 5 years is enough for a trained manager to execute his/her duties expeditiously. Now Zimbabwe has among its ranks, senior people who have each more than 37 years experience in "running" government. One must ask a simple question - what do they know?...apart from stealing, kidnapping, murder and extortion. Charamba should also learn to keep quiet when asked a question he can't answer. He's not omniscient. There is a real danger of another wave of exodus of (this time) younger trained professionals to other countries, Only failed politicians can be happy with that.

Sagitarr - 4 January 2019

I like the speed with which the Delta conundrum was dealt with. But surely are not health services more critical. At times like these you hear Trevor Ncube, ensconced at his South African base and enjoying the best of both worlds telling us to give his friend ED MORE TIME. MORE TIME FOR WHAT? TO RUIN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY?

Zum - 4 January 2019

Delta issue was equally important because of its down stream effects, maBottleStore arikuraramisa vanhu nyika yose angavhara. maDhokotera mawani, hujunior doctor takes how long to complete.

Sama - 4 January 2019

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