Detached government sacrificing people’s health

David Parirenyatwa

What is more basic than health? Yesterday, we carried a report prominently on Page 1 titled Doctors’ strike spreads to district hospitals.


This was to the effect that what started as industrial action by junior doctors at public hospitals had spread nationwide to affect provincial and district hospitals.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association said provincial and district hospital medical practitioners were further shouldering “the work burden due to a dysfunctional referral system.

They work under strenuous conditions with an average of one or two doctors per district, which is a highly inappropriate ratio of doctor-to-patient”.

Doctors have reached the end of the tether. Indeed, it’s basic and elementary that one does not need a PhD to see this gross anomaly which has led to the dysfunctional referral system. The matter is both urgent and important, but the government is sleeping on duty, with Health deputy minister Paul Chimedza saying he was unaware that the strike had spread to district hospitals.

If he is in the dark, who does he expect to be in the know? Is this a reassuring and responsible thing to say when the world is grappling with the deadly Ebola outbreak? Chimedza is there to give authoritative information as and when required.

He should anticipate questions and give answers on the spot.

The buck stops with Chimedza and his boss Health minister David Parirenyatwa.

If they are not up to the task, they should do the honourable thing: Resign without any further delay to pave way for those willing and able individuals. There is what is called individual ministerial responsibility.

Individual ministerial responsibility is a constitutional convention that a Cabinet minister bears the ultimate responsibility for the actions or inactions of their ministry.

The doctors are demanding a review of their salaries, on-call allowances, provision of decent and affordable accommodation at government-owned flats and tax rebates on vehicle imports. Considering that they are highly-qualified professionals whose skills are not easy to acquire the world over, their demands are not unreasonable. Factor in that they are presently earning a measly and insulting basic salary of $282 a month and want this increased to just over $1 200, you begin to appreciate their patience, maturity and responsibility.

But this has not been reciprocated by the government. It obviously has other inverted priorities for quick, selfish political returns, not for long-term benefit to the nation. This government seems to be of the perverted view that self-preservation precedes all else.

The time and resources that should have been expended on urgent and important national matters have been diverted to internal party faction fights. The ruling elite is busy scheming and plotting while people who should be productively serving Zimbabwe are dying all over the country because of the doctors’ strike which has been going on for close to a month and has since expanded.

It is this detachment from the ordinary people that has caused the situation to escalate and deteriorate. Both the politics and economics have become skewed and one won’t be surprised to hear the government say in all seriousness that the doctors should supplement their meagre income by going into farming or taking over foreign-owned companies.

This is the clueless and out-of-touch government that we are saddled and cursed with for at least the next four years.


  1. Chimedza is sleeping on duty while his boss Parirenyatwa is unconcious on duty while their boss the president is in a total comma. What a disaster of failure

  2. Those doctors don’t care about us. The big names in medicine were striking junior doctors at one point in their careers, so they understand each other.

  3. Whats the newly graduated doctor doing? Gire should declare herself available just like Mzee did after receiving his phd, kkkkk

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