Parly committee chair condemns govt decision to fire doctors

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By Anna Chibamu

PARLIAMENT’S Health and Child Care committee chair, Ruth Labode has condemned government’s controversial decision to fire nearly 300 Zimbabwean doctors for ignoring its orders to end their crippling strike over poor wages.

The outspoken MDC lawmaker was speaking at a 2020 post-budget parliamentary committee consultation meeting on Wednesday.

Labode urged Health secretary Agnes Mahomva to seek proper advice on the matter which she felt was not properly handled by authorities.

The Bulawayo legislator felt government could have, instead, allowed the medical practitioners to persist with their job action as opposed to the drastic decision to fire them.

“The dismissal of doctors is a concern to me,” said Labode, once a practising doctor herself.

“How do you plan to go forward. How do you plan to replace them, are you going to Cuba? I do not know where you plan to go.

“Why did the government fail to ignore the strike. The decision of a government suing your own child because they have refused to wash a plate will mean that when a neighbour goes to renegotiate that position, the shame will come on you.

“In the first place, why did you not negotiate more? Today, University of Zimbabwe professors are talking about negotiations, but government continues to discipline doctors.”

Mahomva, in her response, said decision making on the doctors’ matter was nolonger a health ministry prerogative but now involved more government ministries and the courts.

“Once things go in a certain way, sometimes reversing them becomes a bit of an issue,” she said.

“You have got a court ruling there. I cannot reverse that,” she said while referring to a recent court ruling declaring the doctors strike illegal.

“I want to be clear on that through our Health Services Board (HSB) and the Attorney General’s office.”

Government early this month took the unprecedented decision to fire nearly 300 public hospital doctors for embarking on what it considered an illegal job action.

Negotiations between government and doctors’ representatives still continues even after the dismissals.

Mahomva seemed to be blaming the doctors for seemingly negotiating through the media.

“We are working flat out madam chair,” she said.

“It is very unfortunate that others (doctors) are quick to have sound bites, blow them out of proportion, jeopardising some of the things happening.

“Sometimes we cannot keep crying asking why it happened. I am not crying about what happened, but I am looking at what solutions can we come up with, how we can continue to get out of this crisis but crisis it is there.