Striking doctors blocked from confronting Mnangagwa

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By Thandiwe Garusa

DOZENS of striking Zimbabwean doctors in Harare were Monday blocked within just a hundred mitres from marching to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Munhumutapa offices amid fears for the State leader’s security.

The doctors marched for nearly a kilometre from Parirenyatwa Hospital intending to petition Mnangagwa on the abduction on Saturday of their union leader Peter Mugombeyi by suspected State agents.

They found themselves restricted within a hundred mitres from Munhumutapa building.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) vice president, Dean Ndoro later told they were stopped by the police for security reasons.

“We were stopped by the police within the law worrying that people might take advantage of our demonstration and we wouldn’t be secure,” he said.

“They said they are comfortable with us scheduling the demo within the hospital premises and now being in the public areas, you don’t know who might infiltrate the demonstration. People with personal and private opinions may try to manipulate the situation.

“We obliged in their laws and just allowed a few members of our association to go and present the matter to the President’s office and we agreed on the terms and conditions they gave us.”

In their petition, the doctors said they had withdrawn their services from both public and private hospitals to press for better salaries and for the release of their colleague.

“In the meantime,” read the petition, “We have withdrawn our services as from 0800hrs 16th September 2019 as medical practitioners from both public and private sectors.”

Addressing journalists during Monday’s demonstration, Tapiwa Mungofa, ZHDA treasurer general said they will not go back to work until their leader was released.

“We are now very worried and we are calling our security forces to work extra hard in trying to find our colleague so that we can go back to work.

“We are declaring the immediate release of Peter. We want the employers to look at our salaries as Zimbabwean doctors so we can be capacitated to go back to work.”

Magombeyi was allegedly abducted after leading the pay strike, the umpteenth such job action by the health staff in recent years.

A junior doctor at entry level earns just over $400 as gross monthly salary.