Chaos as govt fires over 200 doctors

BY VANESSA GONYE

GOVERNMENT yesterday fired 211 doctors at public hospitals for going o strike to demand better pay, with another 500 at risk.

Doctors have been on strike since September 3 demanding salaries that are indexed to the United States dollar to escape triple digit inflation that has ravaged wages.

The Health Services Board fired the doctors after holding disciplinary hearings which the striking doctors did not attend and said it planned to hold another round of hearings for at least 516 out of the 1 601 doctors employed in the public sector.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, which represents junior and mid-level doctors, has accused government of intimidation to force its members to return to work.

Health Services Board (HSB) executive chairman, Paulinus Sikosana yesterday said the disciplinary hearings were set to continue.

“To date, 279 doctors have been served with charge letters, 213 hearings completed and 211 doctors found guilty of absenting themselves from duty without leave or reasonable cause for days ranging from five or more,” he said.

“The 211 doctors found guilty have been discharged from the health service. Three doctors appeared in person before the disciplinary tribunals and two doctors had their determinations reserved pending verification of their cases.”

Sikosana said at meetings aimed at ending the impasse, doctors had “demanded the pegging of their salaries to the prevailing interbank rate as a precondition for their return to work.”

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade, with inflation, estimated at 353% in September, playing havoc with salaries and prices.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, Itai Rusike said the decision by government was very frustrating considering efforts made to facilitate dialogue with hope of reaching an amicable decision that is comfortable for both parties.

“We have been facilitating dialogue for the past two weeks only to wake up to this. How do you negotiate for dialogue when on the other hand you are holding a knobkerrie? The government is not sincere and its attitude is uncalled for and unnecessary,” Rusike said.

“This intimidatory attitude is not the way to go. The Constitution gives them the right to withdraw their labour and firing the doctors in a country with poor health standards will not improve the situation.”

He said they had done their part in trying to get the two parties to dialogue in search of a solution to the impasse.

“We thought that the government was going to set aside the hearings and uphold dialogue. Without human resources we cannot achieve universal health coverage,” he said.
ZHDA executive members said they were not commenting on the latest developments for fear of victimisation.

“Senior doctors remain incapacitated and hospital drugs and equipment remain inadequate. No meaningful service is being offered at central hospitals,” the union said in a statement.

“Training of both undergraduate and postgraduate doctors has been severely impacted by lack of clinical teaching.

“Flexi-hour system remains in place as policy. This has greatly affected quality and continuity of patient care Junior and middle level doctors have been dismissed from work for not being able to report for duty due to incapacitation. Some on maternity leave and others who are training outside the country have also been served with letters accusing them of absenteeism.

ZHDA said the ‘punitive disciplinary hearings’ should stop while the dismissals must be reversed.

“Robust dialogue in good faith should take place with key stakeholders to help direct the capacitation of the workers and the public health institutions. These must be given timelines to yield results,” ZHDA said.

9 Comments

  1. There are no such things as junior doctors, you have doctors and interns receiving training , in our case they are con artists trying to get money by conning people they are in fact qualified doctors, they are being trained at our expense fortunately we have discovered they do not care about patients it is all about the bucks – why not pay children while they are taking their O levels?Fortunately unlike gullible journalists there are some people with reasoning ability that have fired them before they are a danger to the sick. no other country or hospital will employ these trainees as they made it clear they are about money not helping the sick who they have abandoned.

  2. It is unethical for Doctors to go on strike in the first place . Dialogue should take place while doctors are at work . These doctors are giving a precondition which has no logic .We do not use US dollars for our business any more . The doctors should not talk of USD . The condition they are giving is just like the condition given by Chamisa to dialogue with ED .Some of the silly conditions simply mean no dialogue . You can not now say the firing of doctors leaves us in a worse situation. We already have no doctors but continue to pay them . We better save the little that we have than pay doctors for not working .Simple .

    1. Government is perging its services against the USD using the interbank rate, in case you have been staying under a rock. That is why fuel prices change every week in line with the USD rate

  3. Hooooray the government is now up to its work, civil servants while their concerns may be genuine, the habit of striking and protest damages the nation much more than their problems. Innocent people suffer and have been suffering since this crazy culture of striking was allowed in the country. Sectors like Health, education, must be no go areas when it comes to striking. I congratulate the government for putting on a brave face and firing thses doctors, what ever they call themselves, anyone not happy with a salary should peacefully resign. Infact patients in Hospitals across the country have suffered more even when the doctors where there, enough is enough. Hands up for the government we need sanity in the civil service.

  4. It’s good that the Doctors have been fired. At least this will eventually help people to appreciate how important they are.

  5. This is just madness! How does the regime expect people to continue to work when they are not being paid enough to cover even their most basic needs such as transport cost.

    Zanu PF has failed to revive the economy but will not admit it much less give up power. Mnangagwa et al believe they have the divine right to rule Zimbabwe regardless of the mountain of evidence of the failures.

    Zimbabwe must now move away from the old fashioned and discredited autocracy of a select ruling elite with absolute power. After 39 of rigged elections we need to implement democratic reforms and restore the people’s freedoms and rights including the right to a free vote and right to life.

  6. ho o o. kuona kunosiyana.

  7. Its foolish to think you can resolve dissenting voices by eliminating them, the regime has a shot-memory Gukurahundi did not succeed need theybe reminded. Its interesting to note that they fired the Doctors hours after the UK announces an urgent need for 75 000 health personnel for their HSB – one hopes the regime will not cry foul.

  8. The beautiful ones are not yet born

    The Doctors happen to be people too, with families to take care of and bills to pay as well. They have every right to demand a fair wage and good working conditions with adequate equipment just like everyone else. Arrogance is not the way.

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