By Leopold Munhende
JUNIOR doctors, on strike for the past 36 days have ridiculed Health Minister Obadiah Moyo’s threats to fire them if they do not return to work, further accusing government of breaching its own contract with them.
Speaking during a demonstration at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals on Monday soon after Moyo’s ultimatum had lapsed Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) treasurer general Prince Butawu said they were not scared.
“You all heard what the Minister said last week, we do not know what he meant but we maintain that we are not going back to work. No money, no work.
“We will not be moved by his threats. In fact we are going to get to 100 days and see what happens. We want to see what happens after 100 days away from work if he chooses to threaten us like that,” said Butawu who led some hundred doctors in the protest.
In response to Moyo’s accusation that doctors were violating their contract with government, Butawu accused the Health Service Board (HSB) of reneging on its contract to pay them in foreign currency.
He maintained that they will not get back into their wards until government concedes to demands of a salary pegged at the interbank rate.
Added Butawu: “The document that we received from the Health Services Board (HSB) March 30, 2018 indicates that we were getting our allowances in United States dollars.
“We know that since October last year, (Finance Minister) Mthuli Ncube introduced policies that rated the local currency meaning since 2018 government was stealing our money by giving us unrated salaries.”
The doctors have pulled out of their engagement platform with government, the Health Apex Council citing failure to deal with the worsening situation.
Government had offered them a 60% salary hike which they dismissed last week.
Nurses are turning away patients at Zimbabwe’s main hospitals as more doctors join in the protests.
Senior doctors joined last week.