Takudzwa Chihambakwe and Leroy Dzenga
THE Zimbabwean Government says it was surprised by the action taken by doctors not to report for duty on Tuesday, citing “incapacitation”.
Health and Child Care Minister, Dr. Obadiah Moyo accused doctors of double standards.
Briefing the media in the capital Harare, after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Dr Moyo said there was no notice from doctors, that they were going to strike.
“Doctors did notify us that they were going to strike but soon after that they then held a meeting with the Health Services Board and a new position was arrived at.
“This meeting resulted in a collective bargaining agreement which was expected to be adhered to by the doctors and the board,” said Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo.
Minister Moyo said in the meeting, doctors’ concerns were going to be looked into, although not all doctors were part of the strike.
“The senior resident medical officers have all come to work at all our central hospitals. But it is the juniors that have decided not to come to work. We are hopeful that they will come to work.”
Meanwhile, the Health Services Board has said the withdrawal of services by doctors in public hospitals is unlawful.
Responding to questions from ZTN in writing, HSB Executive Director, Ms Ruth Kaseke, said they have no capacity to meet doctors’ demands at the moment.
“The doctors have pleaded incapacitation on the basis that the remuneration they are receiving is not enough to cover their living expenses, including transport to work. Our interpretation is that unauthorized absence from duty or downing of tools by the doctors is akin to unlawful job action,” she said.
The HSB has said there will be no special treatment for doctors that is different from the rest of the civil service.
“Government is very clear on this issue. The government position is that currently there is no capacity to review salaries based on the interbank rate”.