By Leopold Munhende
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube has told doctors who have gone for nearly two months on strike to accept cushioning allowances offered by government during the period they have been on industrial action.
Ncube was speaking on the side-lines of Friday’s poorly attended anti-sanctions rally at the National Sports Stadium, Harare.
“In January and April, we gave them the cushioning and an adjustment in July.
“We are working on another adjustment as we speak, then a bonus in November next month; surely we are doing our best,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s public hospital junior doctors embarked on a strike action to press for wages pegged at the prevailing US-RTGS interbank rates.
They argue that their wages have diminished by several hundreds in terms of percentage and as such, any increase that is not influenced by that is futile.
This is after government this month offered 100 percent increase on doctors’ on-call allowances and other related perks as part of their remuneration.
Ncube said government would proceed by continuously topping the wages of its workforce as opposed to US dollar rated salaries.
“The purchasing power of everyone’s salary has gone down, we know that. As government, we have to be prepared to keep topping,” said the Treasury boss.
He added, “We cannot afford to do it, where is the exchange rate now? 1:15? Can you imagine if we were to multiply those salaries by a factor of 1 to 15 which is what I am hearing.
“We would rather do it in a sustainable way, in a gradual way and I think we have tried our best, we cannot afford it. As government we will bust.”
Junior doctors declared incapacitation at the beginning of this month and have not been at work since.
They get an average of US$40 as a monthly wage despite a 60% hike and another promised 100%.