Doctors Defy Govt Ultimatum

WITH the doctors’ industrial action inching 90 days, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association find the moratorium offered by government a high sounding nothing coming without a reasonable offer to the table.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

In a statement, ZHDA said to them, the moratorium lacked substance.

“We appreciate the role played by the Catholic bishops which has resulted in the doctors being issued a moratorium, valid for the next 48hrs. Sadly the moratorium has come without a new offer on the table having been communicated to us.

“Should this moratorium lapse without the formal communication of an offer that is reasonable, it would stand as yet another gracious privilege that is lost. We would appreciate it more if the bishops talk to the doctor, representatives first so that they are in an informed position to represent the doctors real interests,” said the doctors.

On Higher Life Foundation ZW$100 million bailout, the doctors said the offer left out the salary aspect.

“On Sunday 24th November, the ZHDA and SHDA met with a representative from Higher life Foundation and deliberated on their offer of financial assistance to government doctors. It was agreed that feedback was to be given after consulting the ZHDA Constituency before entering into any memorandum of understanding.

“As such, it was concluded that, in as much as the support from HLF is welcome, it does not address completely the demands of the doctors for a salary whose value is preserved despite soaring inflation as well as the provision of adequate and appropriate tools of trade,” ZHDA said.

The doctors may accept the HLF offer should the tiff with health service board gets resolved.

“This recognises the sincerity of the donor group and its desire not to interfere with the negotiation process. The stipulated timeframes and terms and conditions surrounding the offer doesn’t make it a viable long lasting solution that the doctors are in search of at the moment,” the junior doctors said.

Government yesterday reversed its decision to fire 448 doctors while freezing all pending disciplinary cases against both junior and senior doctors if they agree to return to work within two days following a deal brokered by Catholic bishops.

The doctors were dismissed after being found guilty of absenteeism following a court ruling declaring their strike illegal. Disciplinary hearings were then instituted by the Health Services Board (HSB) against those doctors who failed to report for duty after the ruling, leading to the dismissal of 448 doctors as of November 26.

Government yesterday gave the doctors a reprieve following a meeting between President Mnangagwa and Catholic bishops at State House. Government also froze all pending disciplinary cases against both junior and senior doctors if they agree to return to work within two days.

The President told journalists after the meeting that they had a fruitful engagement with the bishops and agreed to their request regarding the sacked doctors.

“The bishops sent us a pastoral letter of issues they were raising across the board and asking to meet us as leadership. We acceded to their request and we have discussed these issues,” he said.

“I think the major issue that we have covered is the health sector and national health delivery, economic situation and social conditions of the people in the country, (the) political situation and the role and relations of political parties and national dialogue and last, Government, churches and civil society interaction.

“We covered all those areas. We found it very fruitful, the contribution by the bishops who came to meet us. Then, they requested for a moratorium on the question of doctors for two days.”

They asked that the doctors come back and rejoin without application.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu echoed, President Mnangagwa’s sentiments saying their discussions covered a wide range of issues.

“We discussed a lot about the issue of striking doctors,” he said.

“What we managed to extract from Government was that they agreed to give (dismissed doctors) a moratorium for two days to report to work without having to reapply. They don’t need to apply as it had been decided by Cabinet. That one, Government has committed to that.

“The second thing is that we are happy to hear the Government say they are going to help us to equip our mission hospitals also provide drugs.

“We discussed, of course, the economic situation, Government explaining the difficulties that are there and the efforts that they are also making and I think that is the main thing.”



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