The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors' Association (ZHDA) says it is still verifying reports that an industrial action by doctors and nurses has increased the maternal and neonatal mortality rate.
ZHDA president Fortune Nyamande in an exclusive interview with VOA refused to take blame for the alleged tragedy.
"Questions about the deaths must be directed to the government. We cannot be blamed. All we are demanding are our salaries and bonuses. We cannot attend to patients on empty stomachs. People must ask the government why it does not prioritize health "
Dr Nyamande said the doctors body is still gathering information on the death reports.
The cash-strapped government has been struggling to pay salaries for its workers numbering about 550,000.
Dr Nyamande, says the salaries are now reflecting but there are no promised bonuses.
A statement released after the doctors and the Zimbabwe Nurses Association after a joint meeting read in part, “Our members will report for their duties as normal as soon as they access their cash from their accounts beginning tomorrow. (Tuesday). We maintain that for their normalcy to be long lasting our salaries and beyond must never be tampered with again.”
They added that, “We demand our outstanding bonuses on or before the 31st of January 2015. Health workers deserve to be paid the 13th cheque as they work for long extra unpaid hours during the night, weekends and holidays. Fiscal challenges cannot be an excuse as we had long proposed an alternative non cash incentives scheme. ”
But civil servants who met Central Bank Chief John Mangudya last week told Studio 7 that he told them the bonuses would be spread over 6 months.
Efforts to get a comment from Health minister David Parirenyatwa and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa were futile as their phones went unanswered.
Dr Nyamande told Studio 7’s Blessing Zulu that they are still pressing ahead with their industrial action though they plan to meet this evening to map the way forward.
Meanwhile, Chief economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe says he is not amused by the salary crisis.