Zimbabwe President makes threats on striking ‘stubborn’ doctors

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has issued a veiled threat against “stubborn” public hospital doctors who have persisted with their strike even when his government offered them a 60 percent wage increase.

Zimbabwean doctors downed their tools early last month demanding their wages to be paid in much more stable US dollars or be paid in RTGS dollars pegged on the prevailing foreign interbank rate.

But government insists it could not pay wages in foreign currency and has resisted demands for remuneration to be paid according to interbank rates.

Meanwhile, the economic tailspin continues with prices of goods and services rising nearly every day.

Doctors say they were willing to end their crippling job action but their financial situation rendered it impossible for them to afford the expenses related to daily travel to work, let alone afford to meet their basic needs.

A Parirenyatwa Hospital surgeon said this week that their monthly salaries were no longer enough to buy even 10kg of beef.

However, Mnangagwa sees beyond just the basic needs of the doctors but a Western conspiracy to destabilise his government.

Speaking while addressing the first edition of the Rural District Councillors Meeting Friday, the President said his government was aware some doctors were working with external forces to destabilise the health sector.

“Two months ago, we raised their salaries and they came back again saying the value of the money had been eroded and we offered them a 30 percent increase which they rejected and we increased it to 60 percent which they rejected again,” he said.

“After going through what is happening, we have discovered that there are a few individuals who are getting outside influence and then coming to influence others to continue with the strike. But what we are saying to the doctors is that you are Zimbabweans and the sick people are also Zimbabweans.”

Mnangagwa dared the critical health staff to continue with their strike while threatening unspecified action.

“There is no country that doesn’t have problems, so we should sit down and talk while you are at work. But if you insist on being stubborn, we will see where it will get you to. You might think what you are doing is right, but we will see what will happen at the end,” he said.

Zimbabwean doctors have refused to go back work even after the Labour Court ruled that their actions were illegal.

While the President did not specify what action will be taken against the medical practitioners, his administration has sacked all nurses who have persisted with a strike over wages although they were later reinstated.

His government’s tough handling of labour issues also came under spotlight last month when Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting president Peter Magombeyi claimed abduction and torture by alleged state agents. – Newzim