By Leopold Munhende
ZIMBABWEAN doctors, nurses and other workers within the country’s ailing health sector will nolonger be allowed to go on strike but shall only be permitted to stage demonstrations for some few hours before returning to work.
This is contained in government’s proposed amendments to the Health Services Amendment Bill revealed at a post-cabinet media briefing by Health Minister Obadiah Moyo on Tuesday.
The proposed move could be seen as a government’s strategy to forestall future strike actions by doctors and nurses who have often abandoned patients during their strikes for better wages
Moyo did not reveal government’s planned course of action against those who will proceed to go on strike if the amendments were made.
“There will be defined periods of time where people can voice their concerns but not indefinitely; maybe a matter of hours carrying placards and making sure that your station is attended but not to go forever and allow patients to die.
“We really should make sure that while we should be allowing people to express themselves, they should express themselves in a correct, responsible manner realising at the end of the day we would be looking after patients,” said Moyo.
“If you are part of an essential services you are expected to show respect, especially in the case of health care personnel, you should show respect for those you are looking after.”
If successful, doctors, nurses, radiographers, sonographers and other health personnel will now be in the same boat with soldiers, police officers, prison officers and fire fighters who are not allowed to go on industrial action.
They argue that Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s decision to end the Bond Note’s 1:1 exchange rate against the US$ has devalued their wages which can no longer buy anything in the prevailinginflationary environment.
A visit to the country’s largest health institution Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals by NewZimbabwe.com indicated that most doctors had downed their tools after Monday’s night duty with more expected to join in.
Since taking over as the country’s leader in 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has seen endless strike actions by doctors and nurses.
Hundreds of striking government hospital nurses were once fired by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga before they were reinstated by Mnangagwa.
The salary impasse has continued as government continues failing to meet the critical health staff’s demands.