Zimbabwe government says negotiating to end strike by doctors

Acting leader of government business in the National Assembly, Joram Gumbo told Members of Parliament

HARARE – Government says it is negotiating with doctors to return to work while it attends to their demands two weeks after they went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions.

Junior doctors in Harare went on strike on March 1 but this week spread to all public hospitals in the country, with senior doctors joining them.

The doctors want the government to honour an agreement made four years ago to increase on-call allowances for doctors to $10 an hour from the current $1.50. The state has also failed to fulfil other promises for better compensation and working conditions such as duty free vehicles.

The acting leader of government business in the National Assembly, Joram Gumbo told Members of Parliament on Wednesday that Cabinet discussed the strike on Tuesday, adding that negotiations were taking place to solve their grievances.

A meeting between the government and the representatives of the doctors is planned for Thursday morning, according to Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa on Tuesday. He did not attend Parliament on Wednesday.

Officials say junior doctors earn a basic monthly salary of $329 before allowances.

“Government should just invoke a state of emergency and call the army doctors to assist at hospitals,” Southerton legislator Gift Chimanikire suggested.

“This is a human rights issue, and yesterday I received a message from the Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Angeline Masuku that she visited Mpilo Hospital and saw that people are dying as if there is a war. Government must do something, we are not putting our priorities right,” said Makokoba MP Tshinga Dube.