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Harare Tells Striking Doctors to Return to Work or Face Dismissal

The Zimbabwean government Wednesday told striking junior and senior doctors in public hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo to return to work or face dismissal. Sources said the health ministry put up notices at state hospitals issuing the ultimatum.

Representatives of the 350 striking doctors said the notices seemed to be worded in a way intended to intimidate them, but they pledged to pursue their job action.

Residents in Harare met today to review their position after the minister of health, Dr. David Parirenyatwa, told them Harare was offering a good package. However, health officials refused to disclose details of the government’s proposal to the doctors.

Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that as far as the ministry is concerned the doctors should be back at work because the government has already met some of their demands. He also ruled out further negotiations with the striking residents.

Elsewhere, some 300 nurses in Harare and an undetermined number in Bulawayo were also pressing wage demands. The nurses want average salaries boosted to 3 million dollars a month. A nurse at Harare Hospital said that the ministry of health had not yet indicated it was taking their demands under consideration.

Senior consulting doctor Chris Mushonga of the Harare public hospital system said the ongoing medical staff strike has seriously affected operations at state hospitals.

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