Harare, (New Ziana) – Doctors fired following their participation in an illegal strike can re-apply for their jobs, a cabinet minister said on Thursday.
Addressing a post cabinet media briefing, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu said 435 doctors had so far been discharged after 480 disciplinary hearings were conducted.
The hearings are still on-going.
“A total of 480 disciplinary cases have so far been heard and an additional 149 doctors were found guilty and discharged bringing the cumulative total of doctors discharged to 435,” Ndlovu said.
“Those doctors already discharged have to apply for readmission.”
The decision to allow the doctors to re-apply for their jobs comes as various western countries, battling health personnel shortages, are making moves to attract the highly rated Zimbabwean doctors.
Junior doctors have embarked on industrial action on numerous occasions in recent years, protesting against poor working conditions among other things.
Their current job action has gone on for over 70 days.
Their union, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZDHA), on September 3 this year, declared that its members were incapacitated to continue going to work, demanding a review of allowances as well as capacitation of health institutions through re-equipment and provision of necessary sundries.
The doctors have also demanded their salaries be set in USD and pegged to the interbank rate as a precondition for their return to work.
While committing to improving the doctors’welfare as well working conditions, the government has said their demands for interbank rated salaries were not sustainable as it was faced with various other competing demands.
A housing programme is being worked on as part of moves to improve the living conditions for health personnel, Ndlovu said.
Meanwhile, government has said the situation at municipal clinics remained dire as only half the 138 nurses were turning up for duty while the others remained on strike.
“To alleviate challenges associated with home based deliveries, the Minister of Health and Child Care, has in conjunction with Harare City Council facilitated the opening of Edith Opperman Maternity Clinic,” Ndlovu said.
“Nursing staff from Harare Hospital has been seconded to the clinic which is open 24 hours.”
Ndlovu said the nurses were soon expected to return to work after agreements on a salary increment.
“The nurses are therefore expected to return to work soon but will not be paid for the days that they have not been reporting for duty,” he said.
“Disciplinary procedures for the striking nurses will be conducted according to the law.”