Some leaders of junior doctors, who have been on strike for over three months, were being paid to sabotage the health sector and government by the country’s detractors in a bid to overthrow the ruling ZANU-PF party, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said today.
Junior doctors downed tools in early September demanding a review of the salaries and working conditions.
They insisted that their salaries be either in United States dollar or be pegged to the greenback and paid at the ruling exchange rate of the day. Government said the demand was untenable.
While the courts declared the job action illegal, the doctors continued with the strike nonetheless, and spurned several government and private offers for better pay.
This prompted the doctors’ employer, the Health Services Board, to sack them en masse. However, most have now re-applied to return to work.
Opening the ruling ZANU-PF 18th National Peoples’ Conference in Goromonzi, Mnangagwa said most of the striking doctors had now seen that they were being used by some of their leaders, and were slowly returning to work.
“Most of them did not know what was happening behind the scenes. Some of their leaders are being paid to push for the collapse of the health services,” he said.
He said to break the impasse, government had done all it could, stretching its budget by upping its salary offer to the striking doctors more than twice, but without getting any joy.
The strike took a heavy toll on service provision in public health institutions, and on patients.
The skeleton staff that remained on duty only attended to emergency cases, with the rest of patients being turned away or referred to private doctors, whose charges most ordinary people could not afford.-New Ziana