MINISTER of Information and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvagwa has announced that 77 doctors have been fired by government following the Labour Court ruling declaring the job action illegal.
By Michael Gwarisa and Kudakwashe Pembere
Briefing a post cabinet press briefing on Tuesday, Minister Mutsvangwa said firing the doctors was within the confines of the country’s health laws and Constitution.
Cabinet was informed by the Minister of Health and Child Care that the public hospital doctors strike had gone beyond 63 days. Medical services in most central hospitals therefore remain constrained. The situation is being exacerbated by the city of Harare nurses who have also stopped reporting for duty citing incapacitation.
“Disciplinary hearing for the doctors by the Health Services Board (HSB) commenced on November, 1 2019. Of the 80 doctors charged, 77 were found guilty and discharged,” said Mutsvangwa.
She however added that government was working of finding a lasting solution to the prevailing health crisis.
The move comes hot on the heels of calls by civil society and human resources experts for government to pursue dialogue rather than retribution amidst fears that any harsh verdict on the striking doctors could trigger an even worse health calamity.
Health Service Board (HSB) executive chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikhosana said they will recommence the hearings on November 15 with at least 80 doctors had already gone through hearing.
“The disciplinary hearings are continuing and are expected to be concluded by the 15 of November 2019. Following the medical doctors’ defiance of the Labour Court ruling of 11 October 2019 to return to work, 80 doctors have to date gone through disciplinary hearings.
“They are charged in terms of section 4 of the Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct), Regulations, Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006 (the Code),” said Dr Sikhosana.
He said 77 of these 80 doctors were found guilty of absenting themselves from duty without leave or reasonable cause for days ranging from five or more and discharged from the health service.
“The concerned doctors will be receiving their letters of discharge beginning today, the 4th of November 2019. All the doctors who have so far been served with charge letters and summoned to the hearings exercised their right not to be present at the hearings,” Dr Sikhosana added.
The doctors snubbed the November 1 hearing still claiming it was within their right to demand their salaries.