Senior doctors petition Parliament
Harare(New Ziana) -Striking senior doctors from public hospitals on Wednesday petitioned Parliament to enlist its support in their standoff with government over pay and working conditions.
The doctors downed tools last week in solidarity with their junior counterparts who have been on strike for nearly three months, citing low pay and poor working conditions in public hospitals.
The junior doctors demanded pay pegged to the US Dollar, and paid on the floating exchange rate of the day, something the government said it could not afford.
But the strike was, however, ruled illegal by the courts, prompting government to fire the doctors en-masse after they refused to return to work even after losing the court battle.
They also spurned government offers of increased pay, and a $100 million salary top-up from telecommunications businessman Strive Masiyiwa, which had considerably improved their pay package.
The senior doctors, in joining the strike, said it was to protest the dismissal of their junior colleagues, and to impress upon government the urgency needed to resolve the crisis in public hospitals.
They also listed a number of demands, including government rescission of its decision to fire the junior doctors, and their reinstatement without re-applying as the authorities had demanded, and improved pay of their own.
The government stood its ground, but last week agreed, in a deal brokered by the Catholic Church, to wave its re-application condition if the junior doctors returned to work within two days.
Only a handful returned to work.
In the petition to Parliament, the senior doctors said they wanted the legislature to investigate the state of affairs in the health sector, and help press the government to address their plight.
Senior Hospital Doctors Association deputy president Raphael Makota, reading from the petition, said besides being underpaid, doctors lacked the most basic medical equipment like syringes.
“Our petitioners ask that Parliament in terms of its legislative and oversight role do undertake and insist on the urgent revival of the health care delivery system of the nation in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Zimbabwe hospitals have not been functioning well since March. Things came to a standstill three months ago. Improvising has become the order of the day until it could not be extended. Hospital environment has become unsafe for both doctors and patients.”
“We have made it clear that senior doctors do not want to return to work in the current environment. The Ministry of Health should capacitate hospitals and the workers so that services can resume normally.”
“Doctors work as a team; as such senior doctors need junior and middle level doctors to be able to function properly. These are currently incapacitated,” said Makota.
The petition was handed to Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda.