Govt, doctors head for another clash
By Blessed Mhlanga and Ruvimbo Muchenje | NewsDay |
DOCTORS have come out guns blazing after President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused them of being sponsored by foreign hands to destabilise his government through strikes.
The striking doctors also for the second time yesterday snubbed disciplinary hearings conducted by the Health Services Board over their failure to report for duty.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said its members were not playing politics and did not need third parties to tell them they were suffering.
“The statements are unfortunate. It is clear that government is turning a purely labour issue into a political issue. That is sad. We do not need anyone to tell us that the money we are earning is not sufficient to pay for rentals and buy food. Nobody has to come and tell me that I am struggling to pay fees for my children because my salary is insufficient, doctors are not fools,” ZHDA said.
Mnangagwa, while addressing Zanu PF youth league on Thursday, said he was aware that some doctors were actually being paid by foreign donors to stay away from work.
He said his government was investigating the issue.
But ZHDA denied the allegations, saying if doctors were getting money, they would go to work instead.
“The people who go to government hospitals are our relatives, parents and sisters. Even fellow doctors come to public hospitals. We would, therefore, want to see those hospitals fully manned by motivated doctors so that we create hope for the people,” ZHDA said.
“Not going to work also affects and delays our graduation process. We therefore want to state clearly that we want to go to work. We can only do that when government capacitates us.”
Acting Health minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government remained open to talk to doctors as soon as they come back to their senses.
“We encourage dialogue. We have always said doctors should go back to work while we talk. They should be saving lives. Human life is important,” she said.
ZHDA secretary Tawanda Zvakada said doctors also wanted dialogue, but it had to be done on fair grounds.
“You talk when conditions are right. Government said come let’s talk. When we were getting ready to talk, they abducted our leader. When he was found, we said the conditions are right now let’s talk, then they bring a court order, then letters for hearings. That is not creating a platform for talking,” he said.
ZHDA president Peter Magombeyi was allegedly abducted on September 14 from his Budiriro high-density home and found a week later in Nyabira, about 30km north-west of the capital.
The HSB confirmed that doctors boycotted yesterday’s disciplinary hearings while dismissing reports of massive firing of the striking medical personnel.
“They didn’t turn up for the hearings, but as HSB chairperson, Dr Paulinus Sikosana alluded to yesterday, we are following the right procedure, which provides for going ahead with disciplinary hearings whether the doctor is present or not,” the HSB said.
“The outcomes of the hearings are confidential, hence we will communicate to individuals.”