Ashley Kondo Features Correspondent
It is now two months since doctors went on strike protesting poor working conditions and remuneration.
Before the strike, Dr Peter Magombeyi, a former student activist, came into the picture with claims of abduction.
As police were investigating his whereabouts, opposition elements were already alleging that the State had a hand in his “abduction”.
Using his Twitter handle, MDC-Alliance co-vice president Tendai Biti alleged that the Government was behind Dr Magombeyi’s abduction.
A night vigil to pray for Dr Magombeyi’s safety was organised on the night after his alleged abduction.
Questions were later asked from various quarters on the authenticity of Dr Magombeyi’s abduction claims.
While the doctors’ grievances were genuine, they ought to know that there are other workers in the country who are equally bearing the brunt of economic challenges facing the nation.
For instance, the rest of the civil servants has not been spared by the harsh economic environment.
At some point in time, they have threatened and actually gone on strike, but to date they continue to engage with their employer while rendering their priceless labour to the nation.
To let people die in hospitals because doctors want to be paid in foreign currency, which is not there, is unprecedented and against ethics of the medical profession.
One wonders if the Hippocratic Oath taken by the doctors has become a fun show after all.
It should be understood that Government is simply adhering to laid down regulations and procedures by dismissing the doctors who are defying the law and a court ruling.
Zimbabwe is rebuilding and needs progressive and like-minded forces to support the development agenda, particularly professionals, if success is to be recorded.
Government has been sincere in its negotiations with the doctors and remains seized with the matter and many other issues affecting the country’s health sector, including lack of medicines and inadequate funding for public health centres.
Despite the sincerity of Government, the doctors have refused to go back to work, resulting in many lives that could have been saved being lost.
At the back of such a situation, surely at some point in time, Government had to take decisive action to address the matter once and for all.
On November 5, 2019, Government announced the dismissal of 77 doctors following disciplinary hearings.
What is important to note is the fact that due processes were followed before arriving at the decision to fire the doctors.
It should be remembered that Government has been on a robust drive to revive the country’s health sector.
In July, President Mnangagwa commissioned medical equipment, including paediatric and diagnostic machines sourced from India to capacitate central hospitals across the country.
National Pharmaceuticals Company (NatPharm) has since doubled its production and supply of medicine following Government intervention.
Zimbabwe also received various medication from the United Arab Emirates and India owing to Government’s re-engagement drive.
It is only the issue of doctors’ remuneration which is yet to be resolved despite offers from Government.
On October 14, 2019, the doctors rejected an initial 60 percent pay rise that Government had offered them, while negotiations continued.
As if that was not enough, the doctors refused to heed the court order for them to return to work.
Although doctors play a critical role in the provision of essential health services and are entitled to the right to fight for the improvement of their working conditions and salaries, some of their demands are out of sync with the situation on the ground.
Doctors have been demanding that Government have their salaries paid in United States dollars or equivalent of what they used to earn during the US-dollar era at the current interbank rate.
This demand came at a time Government has been grappling with foreign currency shortages, as well as trying to contain its wage bill.
Doctors have been demanding that Government have their salaries paid in United States dollars or equivalent of what they used to earn during the US dollar era at the current interbank rate.
This demand came at a time Government has been grappling with foreign currency shortages as well as trying to contain its wage bill.
Some analysts have questioned the sincerity of doctors in wanting to resolve the matter and move forward given that Government has opened the door for continued negotiations for improved working conditions further to its offer.
The decision to defy the court ruling for doctors to return to work has left many wondering whether political sabotage was playing out in the matter as it appears there is an orchestrated agenda to halt business across the country’s health sector.