By Leopold Munhende
THE number of Zimbabwean doctors fired so far has surged to 448 with authorities indicating they were opening fresh recruitments end of the week to replace the sacked medical staff.
Government took the drastic decision to fire the doctors after they refused to end a crippling strike that is now into its third month.
Speaking during Tuesday’s post-cabinet media briefing, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said more disciplinary hearings were scheduled across the country, this time targeting senior doctors.
“The (Health) Minister informed cabinet that 508 disciplinary hearings of doctors that have not been coming to work have so far been held, out of which 448 doctors were found guilty.
“It will be recalled that from the previous report, 435 doctors had been discharged and since then, an additional 13 doctors have been found guilty and discharged, making a cumulative total of 448 discharged,” said Mutsvangwa.
“In addition to the 508 disciplinary cases heard by 25 November 2019, an additional 43 doctors from the provinces are awaiting hearings.
“Serving of charge letters for 57 senior doctors at central hospitals commenced on 25 November 2019.”
Mutsvangwa said government was now set to recruit new doctors to replace the fired lot.
“Regarding the recruitment of doctors, the Ministry of Health and Child Care will publish before the end of this week, an advert in the press for all posts that have become vacant as a result of these disciplinary cases,” she said.
Junior and middle level doctors have not been at work for the past 84 days protesting poor wages and working conditions.
Health Minister Obadiah Moyo could however not readily furnish the media with the number of public hospital doctors who remain at work following the mass sacking of their colleagues.
“I do not have figures of the number of doctors we remain with although I can try to get them later. At the present moment, government is more concerned about the ongoing disciplinary hearings.
“We now want to work in a realistic manner, to know who is with us or who is not with us,” said Moyo.
Meanwhile, senior doctors have indicated they were joining the strike action by their junior colleagues in what is certain to through the health delivery sector into further turmoil.
In a statement Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) said they will no longer be attending to emergency cases as had been the case since the start of the crisis until government reverses its decision to fire the 448 doctors.
“We regret to inform you that the SHDA has agreed with its members who had remained behind offering emergency services to the hospitals that we are no longer able to offer any emergency services as from the 26th of November 2019, 1400 hours until all fired doctors are reinstated and there is adequate redressal of their incapacitation,” read the statement.