AS the country faces two potentially disastrous strikes by doctors and teachers, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has described the protests as legitimate action against an unresponsive government.
After futile attempts to get their employer to the negotiating table, the doctors’ strike is started Wednesday while teachers will follow-suit five days later.
PDP national spokesperson Jacob Mafume said it was unreasonable for Mugabe to expect civil servants to continue providing services under difficult conditions.
“No one would want to continue serving a clueless, greedy and ungrateful dictator whose only concern is his personal welfare,” Mafume said on Tuesday in a press release.
He continued, “For what, except nastiness, would explain Mugabe’s expenditure of millions of dollars on treatment outside the country and sending his children and relatives to learn abroad at a cost of millions of dollars to the economy.
“All the money that is pumped out by Mugabe and his cronies as they export their children overseas like exotic fruits and as they are treated in expensive foreign hospitals increases the income of teachers and doctors of those countries at the expense of local practitioners in these sectors. This is not nationalism as Mugabe wants everyone to believe but the highest level of greed.”
Doctors and teachers have long complained about their conditions of service particularly poor remuneration and deplorable facilities and equipment. Endless negotiations have happened resulting in only piecemeal solutions. Industrial actions have become more frequent.
Government continues to cite financial incapacity to meet the professionals’ demands.
However, Mafume said the media is awash with stories of the glitter and glamour of the First Family and its cronies despite leading a country with 72 percent of the population poor.
“As an illustration of the government’s insensitivity to the legitimate demands by doctors and teachers, Mugabe insulted them last year saying they are ‘greedy mercenaries,’” he said.
“He is obviously blind to his mercenary attitude of entitlement which makes him spend over $10 million of national revenue on just his birthday bash.
“In fact Mugabe is the mercenary par excellence who deserves no better place than the dungeons of Chikurubi (prison) where he has locked up those who have dared oppose his failed rule.”
Civil servants are yet to receive their 13th cheque. Two years ago, doctors embarked on a 17-day strike that left patients stranded if not dead. Some of the conditions agreed to before the doctors went back to work have not been fulfilled.
The then executive of the Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association nearly lost their certificates of practice as government hit back at them for organising the stay-away. Zimbabwe’s constitution protects the right to education and health.