The ongoing strike by junior doctors has finally caught on the disturbing stink suggesting that it is not a mere job action. Had it been, it could have been resolved by now, as Government bent over backwards to accommodate issues related to their working conditions.
Government has met the majority of the demands by the striking junior doctors, conceding to eight out of 10 issues, the outstanding of which is doctors asking to be paid in United States dollars as well as pressure to abandon disciplinary action against errant colleagues who participated in an unlawful strike.
Facts on the ground are that the Government has been accommodating enough, moreso in a constrained economic environment that otherwise is being approached with austerity and tightening of belts, itself a difficult proposition.
However, the doctors are keen to squeeze the Government further, using the collateral of poor countrymen who are sick and dying in the country’s health facilities as a bargaining chip.
As we have come to learn, this is no longer driven by a genuine desire to satisfy their material lot. The cause has been hijacked by vultures in search of political fortune outside the constitutional order and processes. We have heard pronouncements from the opposition.
We have heard statements from non-governmental organisations that have always thrived on crisis for relevance and funding for their corrupt leaders’ pockets.
It is hoped that the junior doctors’ strike can be escalated into a nationwide, multi-sector crisis. The goal is to achieve an illegal regime change as Government buckles under pressure. It is an old script.
We are not surprised that the junior doctors have taken this route and that there are some political vultures circling around them.
Equally, we are not surprised that there are moves by other trade union bodies to follow suit to put Government under siege.
We know only too well that there is a Fifth Column in all this — just as there have always been since the turn of the millennium when labour and civil society and social movements were hijacked for political ends.
In all of this we can imagine desperate attempts by traditional opposition to test the patience of President Mnangagwa — who was to reform the system to make it more accountable for the benefit of all. There are attempts to set the agenda and to stampede the Government so they can capitalise on forced blunders.
Those behind the plot want the Government to bare its claws and behave irrationally and open the country to an international spotlight, again. It is common cause that following the transition of last year, Zimbabwe was slipping off the radar of the world’s troubled spots.
Zimbabwe is also seeking to normalise relations with the international community.
Any local fallout has the potential of negatively impacting both domestic and international policies.
Again, we know who is served by this crisis and regression in our local politics.
In light of this, we commend Government for its restraint and accommodation of the junior doctors so far and urge it to make moves to save lives in hospitals.
These measures include finding personnel that is ready to do duty while also equipping our hospitals with materials and drugs so that those that are ready to work do so in an improved work environment.
Connected to this will be dealing decisively with saboteurs and fifth columnists that have swelled the ranks of the striking doctors.
It is a fact that there are doctors that are willing to go back to work, but fear reprisals from colleagues or are being openly threatened. The bona fide doctors must be encouraged and protected while their rogue counterparts should be sanctioned and not be allowed to play politics with the lives of people.