Majority of striking doctors ignore moratorium
Harare (New Ziana) – Only forty six of the 448 striking junior doctors took up a new church-brokered offer by government to return to work, a Cabinet Minister said on Tuesday.
The government last week waived its demand for the doctors to re-apply for their jobs and offered them a two day moratorium to return to work on a no questions asked basis.
This followed a mediatory meeting President Emerson Mnangagwa and his two deputies held with a delegation from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference led by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu.
The doctors embarked on a strike nearly three months ago citing low pay and poor working conditions, but the industrial action was ruled illegal by the courts.
The ruling prompted the government to fire them en-masse and demanded re-application for any re-admission.
But the government dropped its re-application demand after the church-brokered meeting, but still most of the doctors snubbed the latest olive branch.
They also turned down a separate $100 million top-up salary offer from telecommunications businessman Strive Masiyiwa meant to augment government pay.
Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government will not extend its moratorium and will only negotiate with doctors who returned to work.
“The moratorium lapsed on 1st December 2019 and Cabinet decided that it would not be extended as this would negatively affect patients,” she said.
“Cabinet resolved that discussions on conditions of service would only be held with those doctors who are at work.”
Mutsvangwa said government was doing all it can to resolve concerns raised by doctors including constructing housing units for the health personnel.
“Cabinet further noted with satisfaction that the construction of flats for lease to doctors has commenced in Harare. Two blocks of medium density flats will be constructed at all the country’s hospitals on a phased approach,” she said.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said government was trying all it could to resolve the impasse.
He said those who did not heed the moratorium would have to explain why they failed to do so if they wanted to be reinstated.
“Doctors who might not have been able to come because of extenuating circumstances they can always put it in writing,” he said.