By Anna Chibamu
GOVERNMENT has warned that junior doctors will face disciplinary action if they want to return to work as Acting President Constantino Chiwenga accused the medics of “gambling with people’s lives”.
More than 500 junior doctors have been on strike for nearly a month with the Health Services Board (HSB)last week suspending them en masse after the job action was declared illegal by the labour court.
The defiant medics have refused to return to work regardless.
Deputy Health and Child Care Minister Dr John Mangwiro told reporters Thursday that those who wanted to return to work will have to face disciplinary action.
“If they have to come back, they have to go through disciplinary hearings via the (HSB). In short, that’s how they will come back,” said Dr Mangwiro.
He was speaking at a press conference addressed by Acting President Constantino Chiwenga after he toured Natpharm Company and the pharmacy department at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
Chiwenga hit out at the doctors, accusing them of gambling with people’s lives.
You do not gamble with a person’s life. Where is their conscience? The withdrawal of labour was illegal,” said the acting president.
“The matter went to the courts and they were found on the wrong side of the law. The doctors were ordered to go back to work within 12 hours, but they ignored court orders.
“There has been a defiance. They should have returned to work after they lost their case.”
He added; “You do not withdraw labour in a hospital or in any essential service institution. What about the right to life?
“There is no right to death. If people die, will you bring them back to life? People should negotiate. We should never allow people to die.”
The no-nonsense Chiwenga earlier this year fired all striking nurses.
He was last week deployed to deal with the doctors’ industrial action by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“The (doctors’) defiance is not acceptable, and we do not condone that. By this weekend, we want to see a complete change in the public hospitals,” he said Thursday.
“Those who want to be doctors and care for the people should have realised that what they did was wrong.
“We have taken other measures to make sure that service in hospitals is provided for adequately.”
The doctors went on strike on December 1 over their depreciating pay and poor working conditions.
They have since been joined by radiographers, some senior doctors as well as trauma surgeons.
In previous strikes, army medics have been called in to fill the breach, but it’s not clear what will happen in this case.