Zimbabwe tycoon's offer seeks to end doctor strike

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A funding offer by a billionaire Zimbabwe telecoms tycoon on Wednesday prompted the country's doctors to consider ending a long-running strike over wage payments.

Doctors and the government have failed to agree on a wage increase since September last year, leading the medics to walk off the job.

Strive Masiyiwa, a philanthropist and owner of Econet Global, has now offered to pay the doctors a subsidy to cover living costs through his Higherlife Foundation.

"We have asked all our members to apply so we can go back to work, and provide patients with the best service we can under the circumstances," Tawanda Zvakada, the acting secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors' Association, told AFP.

Under the offer, doctors have until Friday to submit their applications for the subsidies which are due to be rolled out starting February 1.

Junior doctors have been taking home the equivalent of less than US$200 a month.

The subsidies will see a junior doctor pockets an additional US$300 a month.

The strike, which started in September last year, severely disrupted public healthcare services and the government sacked more 400 doctors for their action.

The current stoppage is the latest in a slew of protests in the health sector in recent years as workers struggle to make ends meet in the face of an entrenched economic crisis and soaring inflation.

While those who can afford it get treated at private hospitals, many ordinary Zimbabweans have died because of a lack of medical attention.

Zimbabwe's elite have for decades shunned local hospitals.

Late leader Robert Mugabe frequented a Singapore hospital for treatment where he eventually died last September.

Last year, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga spent months hospitalised in South Africa, India and China.

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