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Zimbabwe Govt Gives Almost 450 Fired Doctors 48 Hours to Unconditionally Return to Work

The Zimbabwean government has given about 450 fired junior doctors two days to report to work without facing any further disciplinary action, according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

The newspaper quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying the fired doctors, who have been on strike for more than three months demanding a salary raise and improved working conditions, would rejoin the civil service with no questions asked.

Mnangagwa made the remarks Thursday soon after holding a meeting with Catholic bishops at State House in Harare.

Mnanagwa said the 48-hour moratorium was suggested by the bishops, who also discussed with him several issues, including the current harsh economic situation in Zimbabwe.

Reacting to the government’s move, Dr.Tawanda Zvakada, acting secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, told VOA Studio 7 they have not yet discussed the government’s proposal.

Dr. Zvakada said the junior doctors are expected to meet soon to discuss the proposal and other issues.

Over 500 junior doctors at state-controlled hospitals, citing incapacitation, went on strike on September 3 this year demanding salary and on-call allowances pegged at ongoing interbank rates.

The doctors are currently earning less than US$200 a month in a nation with a three digit month-on-month hyperinflation rate.

Senior doctors downed tools this week in solidarity with the junior doctors, resulting in the complete shutdown of some departments in state hospitals.

The Health Service Board said it fired the striking doctors noting that they violated some provisions of the labour law. Zimbabwe’s Labour Court recently ruled that the industrial action was illegal and ordered the doctors to unconditionally go back to work.

The doctors vowed to down their tools until government revised their salaries and on-call allowances.