Zimbabwe state doctors down tools over pay, conditions

Tuesday September 3 2019

A Zimbabwean riot policeman stands in front of

A Zimbabwean riot policeman stands in front of doctors and nurses demonstrating over the deteriorating health system, outside Parirenyatwa group of hospitals in Harare, on November 18, 2008. Zimbabwe’s health service is already strained by lack of drugs and equipment. FILE PHOTO | REUTERS 

KITSEPILE NYATHI
By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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Zimbabwean doctors on Tuesday went on strike after rejecting a 60 per cent salary increment offered by the government.

The strike, the second this year by the medics, follows months of protracted salary negotiations between civil servants and government for better pay and conditions.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is struggling to contain runaway inflation caused by currency reforms that saw the country ending the decade long dollarisation of the economy in June.

It offered the rest of civil service a 76 per cent salary increase in a bid to avert crippling strikes by state workers.

The review would see the lowest paid worker earning $1,023 Zimbabwean dollars (about $100).

Doctors said they could no longer afford to report to work because their salaries had been eroded by inflation.

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“We simply do not have the means to continue coming to work because the salary is not sufficient,” Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president Peter Mugombeyi said in a letter addressed to the government.

He said doctors wanted the government to peg their salaries in US dollars as the local currency was losing value fast.

Dr Mugombeyi said doctors’ representatives met government officials on Monday in a last ditch effort to stop the strike.

“They promised to expedite other allowances for health personnel but so far it has been empty promises,” he told Reuters.

Early this year, doctors went on strike for over a month demanding improved working conditions and review of their salaries.

Zimbabwe’s health service is already strained by lack of drugs and equipment as a result of reduced funding and lack of foreign currency.

President Mnangagwa is struggling to turn around the country’s economic fortunes due to a crippling drought and international isolation.

The southern African country is struggling to access loans and grants from international financial institutions due to unpaid debts and sanctions imposed by the United States and other western countries over alleged human rights violations.

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