The Zimbabwean government has dismissed 211 doctors for engaging in a crippling strike, demanding salary and on-call allowance increases pegged on interbank rates.
In a statement signed by Health Service Board chairperson, Dr. Paulinus Sikosana, the government said more doctors are expected to appear for disciplinary hearings following the industrial action, which began on September 3, and has devastated state-owned hospitals.
“In line with section 4 of the Labour Act (National Employment Code of Conduct), the disciplinary hearings continue, whereby 516 out of 1,601 medical doctors employed in the public sector are expected to appear before the disciplinary tribunals. To date, 279 doctors have been served with charge letters, 213 hearings completed and 211 doctors found guilty of absenting themselves from duty without leave or reasonable cause for days ranging from five or more.
“The 211 doctors found guilty have been discharged from the health service. Three (3) doctors appeared in person before the disciplinary tribunals and two (2) doctors had their determinations reserved pending verification of their cases.”
Dr. Sikosana said the Health Service Board has tried, in vain, to negotiate with the striking doctors, who have vowed to continue with the industrial action until their grievances are met.
“Cognizant of the need for continuous dialogue with its employees, on 10 October 2019, the Health Service Board met with both the Senior and Junior doctors. On 29 October 2019, the HSB again met the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) in the presence of the Executive Director for the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) where the ZHDA presented a position paper. Again, the ZHDA demanded the pegging of their salaries to the prevailing interbank rate as a precondition for their return to work.”
The striking doctors say the dismissal of their colleagues would not resolve the crisis in state hospitals.
According to Mthabisi Bhebhe, a top official of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, “the Zimbabwean government should engage us and not dismiss striking doctors because we are incapacitated, nothing else.”
The Labor Court ordered the doctors to go back to work saying their strike was illegal.