HARARE – Over 200 doctors joined by other health workers marched from Parirenyatwa Hospital to parliament on Thursday to protest against the disappearance of the leader of their union.
The march was allowed after the High Court ruled on Thursday that police should not interfere, after law enforcement agents blocked two previous demonstrations.
The doctors had sought to march to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s offices and parliament to present petitions after Peter Magombeyi, the leader of the Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association, went missing.
ZHDA represents junior and middle level doctors at public hospitals.
“As health professionals we are being threatened by security elements. Both nurses and doctors are regularly being told that resisting what the government offers them will result in their death,” the doctors’ petition presented to the Clerk of Parliament says.
“Evidence of the threats is available in audio and text messages,” the petition said without giving more details.
Doctors have vowed not to return to work until the government significantly increases their salaries and Mugombeyi is safely returned to his family.
The doctors challenged the police actions and Justice Clement Phiri of the Harare High Court ruled that the doctors could go ahead with Thursday’s march after lawyers for the police conceded that the actions by law enforcement agents were unlawful.
Association lawyers argued that that doctors wanted to march for a non-political cause, which did not require police authority.
“If they want, they (police) can only provide manpower for security reasons,” Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer representing the doctors, told Reuters after the ruling.
Police spokesman Paul Nyathi could not immediately comment.
Last month, police banned protests planned by the opposition over Mnangagwa’s handling of the economy.
The demonstrations were viewed as a test of Mnangagwa’s willingness to tolerate dissent in a country tainted by a long history of repression.