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More Zimbabwean Doctors Dismissed As Eight-Week Strike Continues

The management of Harare Hospital in the Zimbabwean capital fired 80 doctors late last week despite a statement by Health Minister David Parirenyatwa that authorities would not dismiss striking hospital residents, medical sources said Monday.

Medical staff at Harare Hospital said at least 80 junior and senior residents received letters of dismissal Friday from the hospital's chief executive officer, Julius Nderere. That brought to about 90 the number of striking doctors dismissed to date.

Hospital administrators said the doctors had violated health services regulations which prohibit health personnel from absenting themselves for more than 30 days.

On Thursday, Dr Parirenyatwa appeared to nullify the dismissal of 10 doctors fired for taking part in the strike. The latest development raised questions as to who is really in charge in the national health care crisis, particularly as Dr. Parirenyatwa abruptly left on leave for about a week at one point in the eight week labor dispute. Zimbabwe Defense Minister Sydney then stepped in to take charge temporarily.

The striking doctors are demanding that their monthly salaries be increased from less than Z$100,000 to Z$5 million, or US$1,000 at the informal market exchange rate. They have rejected a government offer of Z$1 million a month, sources said.

Sources close to the situation said Parirenyatwa met Monday with representatives of the junior and senior resident hospital doctors in Harare.

Doctor representative Simbarashe Ndodha told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Dr Parirenyatwa said he is awaiting the outcome of deliberations by the Health Services Board on the doctors' grievances.

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