ZCTU slams govt attempts to ‘militarise’ health sector

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has slammed government for conscripting all junior doctors into military service before being employment saying the move is tantamount to millitarisation of the health sector.

This follows a Health Services Board (HSB) letter that revealed Treasury had granted the former permission to appoint 407 Junior Resident Medical Officers on condition that some of them were appointed under the Defence Forces Service Commission.

HSB said around 230 Junior Medical Officers in their final examinations had since concurred to be absorbed into service upon successful graduation.

But in a statement Tuesday, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo said there was no doubt the process was an attempt by authorities to millitarise the medical field and a simultaneous ploy by government to intimidate the doctors, who over the years have been taking industrial action against poor salaries.

“We are worried by the millitarisation of the Health Ministry, which was recently taken over by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, a former soldier. This follows the appointment of Jasper Chimedza, another former soldier as permanent secretary.

“What this entails is that it will not be easy for the ministry’s workers to demand a living wage under the watchful eye of the military men at the helm of the ministry,” said Moyo.

He said even more worrisome was the tendency by government to second top public jobs, former high-ranking military officers.

The ZCTU chief said this tended to intimidate workers given the general public fear towards soldiers.