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Constantino Chiwenga: Striking Zimbabwe Doctors in Wrong Profession

FILE: Retired General Constantino Chiwenga at the State House for swearing in as one of two Zimbabwe's vice presidents, Harare, Dec. 28, 2017.

Acting Zimbabwean president Retired General Constantino Chiwenga says he expert striking doctors suspended early this week return to work by the weekend, noting that those that won’t do so are in a wrong profession.

Chiwenga, who toured NatPharm which imports an assortment of goods from various nations on behalf of the government to appraise himself about drug and equipment supplies for state hospitals, told reporters in Harare that striking doctors don’t care about patients.

“We will not entertain wrong things. The law does not allow that … Those that have withdrawn their labour may be they chose a wrong profession … If they found that they were on the wrong side and did not follow the law and they were for the people and they want to be doctors and want to care for the people they could have seen that what they are doing is wrong. We have taken other measures to handle the situation at our hospitals.

“They (doctors) should have that sense of saving lives. That’s what we want to see … Government has spent a lot of money training these young doctors. We are going to look at the law and see how we can handle such issues. We have found that the systems that were being followed were not correct. When somebody has not yet finished (learning) you can’t call him a junior doctor and those regulations are going to be put in parliament and until somebody finishes his or her learning we cannot call that person a doctor because he will be still under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. Senior doctors will have to certify that the person is a junior doctor.”

Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Professor Murwira said his ministry would make the necessary learning policies “that are good for students and that are principally good for the nation.”

Health Deputy Minister John Mangwiro added that all 500 striking doctors will face disciplinary action.

“If they have to come back they have to go through disciplinary hearings via the HSB (Health Service Board). I think, in short, that’s how they will come back.”

Reacting to the acting president’s remarks, the striking doctors indicated that they won’t return to work until their grievances are met. They are demanding payment of salaries in United States dollars, improved working conditions and other issues.

The Labor Court recently declared that the doctors’ strike was illegal and empowered the Health Service Board to take appropriate action against them.