THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is greatly disturbed by the government’s lack of seriousness in resolving its dispute with the striking doctors. The continued strike by the doctors is causing untold suffering and unnecessary death of ordinary Zimbabweans as the strike has paralyzed operations at state-run hospitals.
What is more worrying is that for the past 15 years or so, doctors have been striking almost every year without their issues being addressed. The strikes have become an annual event, and the government has been failing to find a lasting solution.
In the latest action, the doctors have been on strike for two months over their poor working conditions. They say they are incapacitated to go to work. They are also demanding that the salaries be indexed to the prevailing interbank rate and that government must fulfill its promise to provide sufficient drugs and equipment at the public hospitals. These are genuine reason and any reasonable government would attend to these issues.
Instead of looking into the grievances, the government has responded by dismissing some of the doctors and threatening those who dare join the strike. “Even President Mnangangwa was quoted in the press warning the striking doctors that the Government was aware of external forces propping up their illegal industrial action”. This is a paranoid government that sees any genuine action as meant to topple it from power.
The strike has seen the closure of almost all central hospitals, children's units, provincial hospitals and cessation of emergency life-saving procedures throughout the country. We note with concern that patients are being turned away from government hospitals as the few doctors who have remained at work are failing to cope.
The ZCTU observes with sadness that Zimbabwe's public health system has deteriorated significantly under the stewardship of Dr Obadiah Moyo. In real democracies, the Minister should have resigned for failing to resolve this impasse. It is in this vein that we call upon Dr. Obadiah Moyo to be man enough and call it quits.
We also demand that government should, as a matter of urgency, address the needs of striking doctors in order to avoid further loss of lives. It should find a lasting solution to this perennial problem otherwise we will be faced with the same problem of doctors going on strike year after year.