Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday said the government will not pay any of its workers in United States dollars because it does not print the greenback.
Chiwenga, who is the country’s acting President, said this is response to the refusal by junior doctors to return to work after calls by the Zimbabwe Medical Association, which had been asked to intervene, to do so.
Junior doctors have been on strike since 1 December and have been demanding to be paid in US dollars and other perks including importing vehicles duty free.
Chiwenga has the backing of President Emmerson Mnangagwa who announced that he had cut short his leave “to be in immediate and active consultation with the Acting President in resolving the situation in the Health Sector”.
He said the doctors’ strike seemed to have taken political undertones as they had completely abandoned the Hippocratic Oath that puts patients first.
“International best practices which govern doctors and interns, provide that doctors should not abandon patients and posts; and that, instead they should bring forward their grievances while making sure loss of life or unnecessary pain and suffering is avoided,” he said.
The Labour Court ruled on 22 December that the doctors’ strike was illegal and ordered them to return to work within 12 hours of the service of the order to the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association which represents the striking doctors.
They have refused to budge.
Chiwenga ordered the Health Services Board, the employer of the doctors, to take appropriate action against the striking doctors and said the government was working on other measures to ensure that patients are not inconvenienced.
The Health Services Board suspended more than 500 junior doctors for 14 days more than a week ago.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says the government should pay workers in United States dollars saying it cannot expect them to continue to work when they do not have a life.
“GIVE DOCTORS THEIR MONEY…Pay teachers & civil servants in forex. ‘Sledgehammer’ politics always fail. It’s unwise for the powerful to use command or macho tactics to threaten skill and expertise. Give life to Doctors to save lives. Doctors can’t save lives when they have no life,” he tweeted.
Asked by Pablo T Chimusoro to explain how the government could pay civil servants in foreign currency when the same government did not have enough forex for fuel, medication and other basics, Chamisa responded: “Confidence, bankability and legitimacy of government will do it all. There is surplus money in Zimbabwe ..only that most of it is in the pockets of a few high and mighty in power. Some of it is in the informal and subterranean.”
When one of his supporters said it was time the worker started getting paid real money and not a series of figures, Chamisa replied: “Only the fake believe in fake money, fake currency and fake commerce! Genuine people use genuine currency to transact in a functional economy! God save and bless Zimbabwe.”