Striking Zimbabwe doctors defy order to resume work

Doctors in Zimbabwe have ignored a government directive to return to work.  (iStock)
Doctors in Zimbabwe have ignored a government directive to return to work. (iStock)

Doctors striking in Zimbabwe for pay hikes defied a government order to resume work on Monday and asked the UN and private businesses to help fund their return to the wards.

The doctors are in the second month of a strike over salaries which have dwindled to less than $100 per month in some cases as a result of galloping inflation.

They say their pay has lost value by at least 1 500 percent.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said they have used up their savings by "subsidising the employer" for them to just report for work.

Negotiations with the government have been deadlocked as the doctors rejected a 60 percent pay increase and demanded their salaries be pegged to the US dollar.

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo at the weekend ordered the medics to return to work, warning them with unspecified disciplinary action if they did not comply.

The government has adopted a ham-fisted response to the strike, now in its 34th day.

Last month police tried to stop the doctors from marching to parliament, until a court allowed the protest.

The leader of the doctors' union Peter Magombeyi was last month abducted by suspected state agents, only to be released five days later after pressure from his colleagues.

The government tried to block him from travelling to neighbouring South Africa for treatment after local doctors recommended further medical assessment.

He was only allowed to leave following another court order.

The striking doctors have appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO), local businesses, churches and NGOs to help raise funding to supplement their wages.

"Lives are being lost and there is need to urgently raise resources to supplement... the salaries of 1 800 government-employed doctors," they said.

Should the UN heed the doctors' call, it will not be the first time it has supported health personnel in the crisis-ridden country.

UNICEF ran a so-called Health Transition Fund, a multi-donor pooled fund for four years from 2011, paying out allowances to augment medical practitioners' salaries.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 722 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 8497 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1015 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.