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Labour Court Turns Heat On Govt As State Attorney Says Doctors Too Incapacitated to Work

Doctors protesting in Harare ...
Doctors protesting in Harare ...

Zimbabwe’s Labour Court has ruled that the Ministry of Health should make further submissions in a matter in which it is seeking a determination on the 36-day industrial action by local doctors demanding higher salaries and improved conditions of service.

Striking doctors on Monday defied a government ultimatum to return to work.
Striking doctors on Monday defied a government ultimatum to return to work.

According to Doug Coltart, an attorney representing the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA), the government failed to make clear arguments in the Labour Court on why it is seeking an order to declare the strike either legal or illegal in terms of the local labour laws.

Coltart told reporters in Harare soon after court proceedings that the government should place a full record of today’s proceedings and other issues in court by Wednesday for a full hearing.

He claimed that the state attorney conceded that the doctors’ industrial action was a result of incapacitation and not a strike.

“The minister determined the preliminary point but failed to give reasons as to why she issued a show cause order. So, the matter has been sent back to the minister, number one to give reasons on why she issued the show cause order and number two to give a full record, to place a full record in court. So, what we are expecting in that record are full minutes of the hearing before the Labour Court including oral evidence which was backed by Dr. (Tawanda) Zvakada (ZHDA acting president) about the incapacitation of doctors.

Protesting doctors in Harare ...
Protesting doctors in Harare ...

“Doctors are saying we are not on strike, we are not unwilling to go to work but we are unable because we are incapacitated. That evidence was not laid before the court by the minister. The second thing what we are expecting to see in those minutes is that a concession was made by counsel for the Health Service Board to say that indeed doctors are incapacitated but they should go back to work anyway because other civil servants are doing so. With respect, once you make that concession that indeed doctors are incapacitated that’s the end of the matter. It’s not a strike, the doctors are simply unable to go to work.”

He said the Labour Court has made a determination that the necessary documents should be filed in the court Wednesday so that they can be inspected before a hearing is held on a date yet to be determined.