By Leopold Munhende
THE Labour Court Friday pronounced the ongoing doctors’ industrial action illegal and ordered all of them to return to their work stations within the next 48 hours.
Junior doctors who are on day 38 of what they have claimed “incapacitation” for their failure to report for duty and early this week defied an ultimatum from government to return to duty or face disciplinary action.
“It is ordered that the collective job action engaged by members of respondent on 3 September 2019 and is hereby declared unlawful. The said collective job action be and is hereby ordered to be terminated forthwith.
“Members of respondent who participated in the said collective job action be and are hereby ordered to report for duty within 48 hours from the date of this order and the applicant shall be entitled to take disciplinary action against members of respondent who fail or neglect to comply with this order,” reads the final ruling by Labour Justices Manyangadze and Murasi.
Hospitals are slowly being emptied by nurses who cannot contain or treat patients in dire need of doctors.
Some wards at the country’s larger referral hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo have been closed.
Asked whether they will continue with their protest, acting Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) vice president Masimba Dean Ndoro maintained they were still incapacitated despite the court ruling.
“Doctors are still incapacitated, they remain incapacitated despite the court ruling which has suggested otherwise,” said Ndoro.
Some senior doctors last week also joined in and declared incapacitation in what promises to be Zimbabwe’s worst health sector crisis with the rains slowly approaching.
Last year doctors were called into action around this time as a devastating cholera epidemic hit Harare and some parts of the country a situation which could repeat itself in their absence.