OPPOSITION parties have rapped President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and Zanu PF for failing to address striking medical practitioners’ concerns.
BY SILAS NKALA
Doctors at government hospitals downed tools on March 1 and on Wednesday those at Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) staged a demonstration demanding that the Health ministry improves their working conditions.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association Matabeleland representative, Kevin Kusano, said they will demonstrate every day until the ministry addresses the grievances.
The doctors accused the government of failing to procure adequate hospital equipment and essential drugs to allow them to provide quality service to patients at district and central hospitals. They also complained over poor salaries compared to their counterparts in the region.
Doctors are also calling for the government to lift the blanket freeze on recruitment of health workers with immediate effect to alleviate staff shortages.
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said the ongoing strike by doctors and nurses at the country’s major referral hospitals bears testimony to the disastrous 100 days of Mnangagwa’s rule.
“The rapid deterioration of health standards under the junta administration is alarming. The fact that a junior doctor earns $369 per month before allowances, shows that the health sector is clearly not a priority for the government. Public hospitals are ill-equipped, and have, in fact, become death traps themselves,” he said.
“We were told by Mnangagwa’s government that $250 million has been recovered to date from looters. Why is that money not going towards redressing the state of affairs in the health sector? This industrial action that has endangered the lives of thousands of patients is no doubt a direct result of government stubbornness, incompetence and misplaced priorities.”
Chihwayi said doctors are simply asking for drugs, functional equipment and better remuneration, so they can perform better their duty of saving lives.
“What hospital can function without basic requirements such as gloves and drugs? Government should, as a matter of urgency, address doctors’ concerns to avoid the suffering and deaths of patients. This is a matter that has been ignored for far too long. Patients should not have to die in their thousands first before government considers attending to doctors’ plight,” he said.
“Surely, the absence of doctors in health institutions during a time of frequent outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid and cholera is toying with human life. As MDC, we are convinced that Mnangagwa and his government do not care about the welfare of people.”
MDC-T and MDC Alliance Bulawayo spokesperson Felix Magalela Sibanda said it is most insensitive act for the Mnangagwa administration to busk in the sun while the health sector is burning.
“Why is the government gambling with lives of patients?” Sibanda fumed.
“Life is sacrosanct, hence, any government worth its salt must adhere to the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations laws and in our case, the Constitution of Zimbabwe, section 65, labour rights and section 76 rights to health care respectively.”
Sibanda said the provisions of the Constitution are clear that every person has the right
to participate in a collective job action, including the right to strike, sit in, withdraw their labour and to take other similar concerted industrial action.
“It is in the doctors’ rights to demand fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage or salaries. Mpilo and UBH are death camps instead of life-givers because the outpatient wards in both hospitals are completely shut and patients are at high risk of dying unnecessarily,” he said.
“The MDC Alliance feels this is highly irresponsible of Mnangagwa’s administration. We demand the immediate resignation of the ineffective Health minister David Parirenyatwa for ill-conceived programme of operations and bargaining in good faith since five years back or more.”
He appealed to the Bulawayo community to picket the government in their own way.