Allow chiefs to mediate striking doctors-govt impasse: Charumbira

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CONTROVERSIAL Zimbabwe Chiefs Council President and Senator, Fortune Charumbira, says chiefs must be allowed to mediate the prolonged impasse between striking junior doctors and government.

He was addressing fellow Senators Thursday following a ministerial statement moments before by Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa concerning the industrial action by doctors.

In his comments, Parirenyatwa conceded his ministry has failed to persuade the medical staff to return to work, adding that they have referred the matter to “higher offices”.

This was in apparent reference to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputies.

“Whenever there is a strike, we have people who try and solve the situation,” Charumbira said.

“We believe these go between should assist in shelving this industrial action. We are saying, if you have problems in talking to the workers that are on industrial action, please you may also invite us as traditional leaders.”

Doctors went on industrial action beginning of the month to press for improved wages, allowances and a vehicle loan facility, among some of their grievances.

During the on-going strike, hospitals have been turning away patients as no solution remains in sight for the crisis.

But Charumbira felt traditional leaders could help find the much elusive breakthrough between the parties.

“We can talk to them (doctors) and they will understand. When we have intervened and made resolutions, please follow up on those resolutions because at the moment, people are in problems,” said the one time University of Zimbabwe student activist.

“…We need to convince these doctors and when we have made resolutions, we tell them and implement that.

“What we need is someone to go between; we are going to do something about these things.”

Parirenyatwa, while responding to concerns raised by Senators over the crippling strike by the health staff, did not respond the Charumbira’s requests.

It is not the first time the excitable chiefs representative has made controversial public utterances.

In 2014, Charumbira demanded traditional chiefs be afforded the same treatment given to judges by government insisting they tried more cases than modern courts in the rural areas where the majority of people live.

In January this year, the Zanu PF loyalist invited scorn from the opposition when he said traditional leaders will back the ruling party in elections due this year while also endorsing support for Mnangagwa’s presidential bid.