Harare (New Ziana) – The Government on Thursday gave 448 doctors, who were fired this month for taking part in an illegal strike, a two-day moratorium to return to work on a no-questions asked basis.
This followed a mediatory meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his two deputies and a delegation from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference led by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu.
After the Health Services Board dismissed the doctors, the government had said it would only take back those who re-applied, but this condition has now been waved.
Archbishop Ndlovu told journalists the crisis in the country’s health sector dominated discussions with the President.
“We discussed a lot about the issue of the doctors, the striking doctors and what we managed to extract from the government was that they agreed that they will give a moratorium for two days for doctors to return back to work without having to re-apply,” he said.
“They have two days to come back to work without having to re-apply as it had been decided by Cabinet. Government has committed itself to that.”
President Mnangagwa confirmed that government had indeed agreed to the moratorium.
“They requested for a moratorium on the question of doctors for two days, that can we offer a moratorium for the doctors who have been dismissed to come back to work and rejoin without applications and we granted their request,” he said.
The doctors, now on strike for over 70 days, had through their labour union, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZDHA), on September 3 this year, declared that they were incapacitated to continue coming to work due to low pay.
They also demanded their salaries to be set in USD and pegged to the interbank rate, a demand government said was untenable.
To assist in diffusing the stand off, telecommunications tycoon, Strive Masiyiwa on Wednesday offered to pay each doctor an additional US$210 a month in salary for the next six months among a range of other benefits including transport.
Other issues that came under discussion at the meeting between the President and the bishops included the economic and political situation as well as support for Catholic run hospitals by government.