Striking Zimbabwe doctors ignore 48-hour ultimatum to return to work

Harare ‑ Striking Zimbabwean doctors have failed to go back to work in the 48 hours reportedly agreed to between the government and the disgruntled health workers who are demanding to be paid in US dollars because the local “bond note” continues to lose value and is encountering market rejection.

The doctors, including juniors who have been on strike for more than a month, are also demanding better working conditions, protective equipment and medication for patients.

At the weekend the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) was tasked by the government with persuading its members to return to work within 48 hours. The deadline issued on Saturday ended on Monday, 7 January, at 5 pm.

In a statement, ZHDA said it “carried widespread consultations of its members as per agreement”.

However, the association said its members “felt that the agreement did not take cognisance of their immediate incapacitation in a raging economy, as no current offer was made on the remuneration of the doctors to improve their welfare”.

“Additionally, there were no timelines and evaluable targets for the provision of drugs and protective equipment to government hospitals,” the statement said.

As a result, the association said its members remained incapacitated and would not be able to resume normal duty until their concerns had been addressed by their employer.

The embattled Zimbabwe government, which is facing its worst economic meltdown in recent memory, claimed striking doctors had returned to work on Monday.

The information, media, and broadcasting services ministry tweeted: “Government wishes to thank all the doctors that have gone back to work at Mpilo, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Harare Central Hospitals and Parirenyatwa”.  

But the doctor’s association responded saying, “the available ZHDA members who had shown up for duty in various hospitals have since indicated they will be re-joining those at home” until their grievances have been attended to.

African News Agency (ANA)