ED aborts annual leave

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forced to report for duty, hardly a week into his annual leave, as the crisis in the country continues to deepen, with his deputy Constantino Chiwenga failing to resolve the doctors’ month-long strike, amid other challenges.

BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/KUDZI MUCHENJEKWA

Mnangagwa was back at his office yesterday following a public outcry from some sections of society, who questioned his decision to go on holiday before resolving doctors and other civil servants’ salary grievances, in addition to the worsening economic crisis triggered by the runaway inflation.

A post on the Information ministry’s Twitter handle on Tuesday announced Mnangagwa’s return to duty, barely a week after he started his annual leave.

“I have cut short my leave to be in immediate and active consultation with the Acting President [Constantino Chiwenga] in resolving the situation in the health sector,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying.

Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi confirmed the development yesterday, saying besides attending to the doctors’ issue, Mnangagwa would also take time to deal with other matters that Chiwenga could not handle alone.

“The President is on leave and will only be in office on January 9, but between [Tuesday] night and tomorrow [today], he will intermittently be in office to attend to issues that cannot be handled by the Acting President. These include making financial commitments and receiving ambassadors,” Mutodi said.

Asked why Mnangagwa could not just delegate Chiwenga to handle the pressing matters, Mutodi said mobile network at the President’s Kwekwe farm was sometimes a challenge, hence the decision to be physically in office to attend to the issues.

“The rumour circulating that he does not trust his deputy is not true. That he is coming to deal with the doctors’ strike is incomplete information,” Mutodi added.

Doctors downed tools on December 1 before Mnangagwa appointed Chiwenga to take charge of the negotiations, which, however, broke down as a result of the latter’s alleged poor
negotiating skills, forcing senior doctors to join the strike in solidarity with their over 500 junior colleagues who were suspended by government last week.

The senior doctors, who share the same grievances as their juniors, in a statement issued yesterday said they had become overwhelmed by the workload and were no longer confident they could discharge duties properly without compromising the patients and their safety.

They said they were also withdrawing their services until an agreement is reached. The doctors are demanding payment of their salaries in United States dollars and to be given car loans.
They also want government to buy enough medical equipment and drugs, among other demands.

The suspended doctors, who had their December salaries suspended, are due to appear for disciplinary hearings tomorrow.

But Chiwenga on Tuesday urged the Health Services Board (HSB) to punish the striking doctors, accusing them of negotiating in bad faith by not returning to work when government had compromised and met most of their demands, except two.

In a statement, Chiwenga said government was concerned that the strike had been politicised and vowed that the administration would not back down and pay any of its workers in foreign currency.

He accused the doctors of being insensitive to the lives of citizens.

“Government notes with concern the political overtones which the labour issue has now assumed, including attempts by striking doctors to appeal to constituencies which have nothing to do with health delivery or their employment contracts,” Chiwenga said.

“In the meantime, government will not allow any demonstrations at medical facilities, whose purpose is to treat patients and ensure their full recovery.”

He added: “For the avoidance of doubt, government will not remunerate any of its workforce in United States dollars.

“The hard-earned foreign currency will be committed to, among other areas, importing essential medicines for hospitals and clinics, as well as to facilitate the recovery of the economy, in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme.”

Chiwenga said government was committed to fulfilling the commitments made to all health workers, with an undertaking to review the conditions of service for all workers in the public sector within the second quarter of this year, in line with the budget cycle.

Government, Chiwenga said, would also request the HSB to take appropriate action against the striking doctors, whose conduct has been declared unlawful by the courts and in violation of the international practice that doctors should not abandon work, but, instead, “bring forward their grievances while making sure loss of life or unnecessary pain and suffering is avoided”.

“By going against the Hippocratic Oath, the striking doctors have shown their callous insensitivity to human life, pain and suffering,” Chiwenga said.

Government, he added, would make announcements in the coming days on how it intended to stabilise the health sector in the long run.

The Acting President said government would also continue to import essential medicines and accessories vital to effective service delivery.

But Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association secretary-general Mthabisi Anele Bhebhe yesterday said their members would not be cowed into submission before their demands have been met in full.

“Those two demands that have not been met are those that save lives. Hospitals need drugs, equipment and the doctors need salaries to go to work. We want to go back to work, but what remains is what is critical,” Bhebhe said.

“We met today, and the enthusiasm to continue with the strike until something tangible comes out is high. It is game on until our demands are resolved. All the government compromises should be written down.”

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights treasurer Norman Matara also accused Chiwenga of negotiating in bad faith, and warned that government’s refusal to further engage them would trigger brain-drain in the health sector.

“I feel the heavy-handedness approach taken by VP Chiwenga, which includes threatening workers with unspecified action, will result in the migration of health professionals to other countries.
We are already facing a critical human resources challenge in the health sector, with a doctor-to-patient ratio of more than 1:25 000, if you factor in junior doctors, against a WHO [World Health Organisation] recommended ratio of 1:600, ” Matara said.

“Further, threatening these workers, who already face a myriad of challenges such as working without adequate protective material, low salaries and lack of medicines and equipment to use, will only make the situation worse.”

19 Comments

  1. Does he even have to follow Mugabe’s annual leave timings as well? In any case the guy has no clue on solving the plethora of issues facing Zimbabwe. He just wanted to sit in Mugabe’s chair before he dies. ndizvo chete zvanga zvamunonokera.

  2. Eeeeh kunyepa kuri pachena chaipo kwaitwa na minister uyu; kana mafoni akunyetsawo kudari kwa president to communicate eeyi zvadonyangara suwa saka isuwo tichaitaseyi muzimbabwe iri kunzi yakasunungurwa 1980.
    PSE LETS THINK NATIONAL NOT INDIVIDUAL GAINS ZIMBABWE WILL REMAIN ZIMBABWE WHEN BOTH OF US ARE GONE WHAT LEGACY WILL LEAVE FOR THE NATION NOT YOUR POCKET AND YOUR FAMILY.
    NDATENDA HANGU SUWA

  3. Eeeeh kunyepa kuri pachena chaipo kwaitwa na minister uyu; kana mafoni akunyetsawo kudari kwa president to communicate eeyi zvadonyangara suwa saka isuwo tichaitaseyi muzimbabwe iri kunzi yakasunungurwa 1980.
    PSE LETS THINK NATIONAL NOT INDIVIDUAL GAINS ZIMBABWE WILL REMAIN ZIMBABWE WHEN BOTH OF US ARE GONE WHAT LEGACY WILL LEAVE FOR THE NATION NOT YOUR POCKET AND YOUR FAMILY.
    NDATENDA HANGU SUWA

  4. Comment…During the hyperinflationary period, doctors, nurses, teachers et al struggled along being paid bearer cheques by the Mugabe administration because the old man had the country under control even when away on his annual leave. Pasi nejunta!

  5. tendai chaminuka

    Dear Cde President.Your problem is very minor but masanzu atinodhonza mukufamba are our greatest challenges.Boss just do a cabinet reshuffle awa haasi madhonza amunawo zvimubheme.Zvimubheme are known for naughtiness and total failure to commit to a cause.

    1. ko iye wacho? haana kana chaanoziva uyu. the guy has never worked anywhere in his life. kungobuda from being Mugabe’s secretary/ body guard kuhondo into a ministerial office. Everything he knows was through Mugabe teachings…which is poisoned knowledge. That’s why achingoda kutevedzera Mugabe zvese.

  6. Understandably, the current economic status may not allow all the doctors’ demands to be fulfilled in the meantime but the govt must show the willpower to address the matter conclusively instead of putting the lives of innocent citizens on the line.
    Its a misplaced idea in the first place to allocate such a sensitive role to a politician because more likely than not, political arrogance has to overshadow reason.
    In my opinion, the govt should come up with a salary and numeration commission entitled to advise it and address all salary issues depending on the economy.
    No one can singlehandedly deal with the issue at hand, his/her political influence notwithstanding.
    How regrettable that the govt proposed of hiring unqualified doctors to seal the deal? There are no two ways about it Chiwenga.

  7. Strike yakatanga President vasati vaenda kuleave. Chii chitsva chavadzoka nacho manje?

  8. Confused hazvidi hasha mutape garai pashi mutaurirane zvakanaka zvasiyana nekuhondo mazimbabweans ari kutambura kunze kwenyu imwi nevamwe venyu vana onini avo mugere mushe asi hamudyiwo rinopisa nekuti mwadzoka zororo risatirapera zvakapresser toda gutsa ruzhinji kwete zvenyu izvo pfeeeeeeee

  9. The cutting short of his leave by President Mnangagwa shows that he is touch with reality and is in charge of the country.

    A leader who comes out to tackle serious issues bedevilling the country head on must be respected. Thank you Mr President for hearing Zimbabweans cries.

    Our doctors are insincere to the situation only want money at the expense of poor citizens.

    1. wakapusa, you are a disaster I jus wonder if u are married murume wako aripatyt
      coz auna pfungwa…paakaenda kuleave asaziva here kuti madoctors aripa strike, so now you want them to work for nothing

    2. In touch nereality ipi?

  10. Cde President apa hapachadi umbimbindoga tarirai zvinhu zvave mhidigari munyika yechipikirwa. Chindini chete hachishande apa your deputy achakupinzai mumatambudziko asingaperi mukasamungwarira. Kubva pamapinda panyanga hapana kana chimwe chafamba in fact trikutonyura mumadhaka muchingoti ndini ndrikutonga. We need a solution to this crisis as soon as possible

  11. Ndiko kutonga kwaro here uku. Vanhu vofira mudzimba nokushaiwa machiremba.Chirikupisa chigaro ichi vabiyangu.

  12. People and media have a freedom to express themselves freely without fear but I think those enjoying that freedom need to utilise it wisely not for the sake of misleading the nation about how economics behave. Just winning the elections and getting sworn in as president is not itself an incentive in dealing with a difficult economic situation. Kungoitwa kwesarudzo chete mobva mapinda muhuchi nemukaka nekuti mashandei uye nguvai nhai? Let’s be realistic zimbabweans. The government is sincirely embarking on a serious program to correct the national fiscus (chikwama chenyika) which is the root cause of our economic woes and after that everything else starts to fall in place, as simple as all that but the process takes a bit long. Don’t be fooled by those liars who promise 15 billion dollars from trump? Mubhoi iwewe kushandirwa nemwana wa Mrs kuti udye wakarara zvakamboitikepi zvakadaro? Let us all work hard and cooperate with the government and the results will surely come kwete kuteera vemajecha avo.

    1. saka vanoenderi kunorapwa kunze kwenyika if they are sincere??

  13. TEARS OF A ZIM CITIZEN

    If only those in power could put themselves in the shoes of the citizens i think they would have tried to meet the demands of the civil servants .What they are payed has now been reduced to peanuts no wonder why they act like monkeys.Feed the people first then talk about development you cant expect a better Zimbabwe while u let its citizen starve pay them in US$ what the problem its u who say it one as to one with the bond notes so it should be easy for you .Zimbabwe will never change if it has Rulers Zim needs leaders who put the need of the people first before their own desires

  14. No other commitment to duty goes deeper than this show of servitude to the people. And by the way, the President will not have his leave days sold for personal gain. This is also new in the history of Zimbabwe that a sitting President forefeits his deserved rest for national benefit. Well done Mr President, I wish I had voted you twice!!

  15. Tawanda Muzonzinzi

    No other commitment to duty goes deeper than this show of servitude to the people. And by the way, the President will not have his leave days sold for personal gain. This is also new in the history of Zimbabwe that a sitting President forefeits his deserved rest for national benefit. Well done Mr President, I wish I had voted you twice!!

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