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Zimbabwe's Striking Hospital Doctors Reject Government Wage Offer

Striking doctors in Harare and Bulawayo turned down a wage package offered by the government Monday in a bid to end the the labor action now in its sixth week.

Sources close to the situation said said amounts of money corresponding to the offer by the government were deposited in the bank accounts of junior and senior residents at the hospitals. But the doctors decided the amount did not meet their demands and stayed on strike, while others who had been working joined the labor action.

Nonetheless, negotiations were said to be under way between representatives of the striking doctors and senior officials from the Minister of Health. Efforts to reach Acting Health Minister Sydney Sekeremai, who took charge of the crisis last week following the departure on leave of Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, some striking nurses at Harare Hospital returned to work, but one of them said their strike would be resumed if the government ignored their grievances.

The crisis in public health deepened with news that cholera has broken out in Harare with nine cases reported in the Mabvuku and Tafara sections, with more cases in the northern town of Kariba, on the border with Zambia.

Executive Director Itai Rusike of the Community Working Group on Health told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the cholera outbreak added a new and worrisome dimension to the country's six-week crisis.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...