Zimbabwe government hospital doctors who went on strike on Tuesday saying their salaries had become too low for them to afford to go to work are reportedly demanding a salary increment of 700 percent.
Government has offered them an increase of 60 percent which they rejected.
Although doctors have said all they want is to have their previous salaries in United States dollars to be converted to Zimbabwe dollars at the prevailing interbank rate, Harare West legislator Joanah Mamombe told Parliament yesterday that they were demanding an increment of 700 percent to match inflation which she said was 500 or 700 percent.
Zimbabwe’s inflation was 176% at the last count.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube announced last month that the Zimbabwe would not be announcing year-on-year-inflation until February next year but would work with month-on-month inflation to avoid distortions.
Harare floated its local currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, in February and it has since plunged from 1:1 to 11:1 against the United States dollar.
Leader of Government business in Parliament Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said negotiations with doctors were still going on but the government could not afford to treat one sector with preference and neglect the rest.
It is still not clear how successful the doctors’ strike has been as there are conflicting reports with some media saying they are reporting to work.
Below is the full Q &A:
HON. MAMOMBE: My question is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care. In his absence, I will direct it to the Leader of Government business.
We are seeing a notice that was given by the doctors on the strike that they want to undertake. This notice was saying that the strikes are going to take place from the 3rd of this month. I would like to know the permanent solution to the crisis that we are facing in the public health sector, particularly on the issues to do with strikes. How is the Government going to deal with that problem, considering that our health sector is already crippled by the absence of electricity, unavailability of drugs and even equipment? We do not want to see a repeat of people dying like what happened the last time when doctors went on strike – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Matangira, why do you interrupt the Hon. Minister? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Government is committed to improving the welfare of all Government workers, doctors included. Negotiations have been ongoing to ensure that we reach an agreement as to the wages that have to be given to all Government workers. What the Government cannot do at this stage is to treat one sector with preference and neglecting the rest.
As to the second question of a permanent solution to strikes, world over, the right to demonstrate is allowed. I would not believe that one would have a prescription to unforeseen events that may happen that will dictate that a certain sector show their dissatisfaction with that particular event, therefore I cannot say.
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