The government last Thursday gave 448 doctors, who were fired in November for taking part in an illegal strike, a two-day moratorium to return to work on a no-questions asked basis.
The move followed a meeting that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his two deputies held with a delegation from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference led by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu.
After the Health Services Board dismissed the doctors, the government had said it would only take back those who re-applied, but this condition has now been waved.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZDHA) vice president Masimba Ndoro said the junior doctors needed more time to look at the government offer.
“Our position is that we actually received a genuine offer of reconciliation but we wish the offer could be extended so that we finalise our negotiations with government which we think is in good faith.
“We really feel it’s a moment whereby we need to address this issue once and for all,” he said.
The doctors had through their association, the ZDHA, on September 3 this year, declared that they were incapacitated to continue going to work due to low pay.
They also demanded that their salaries be pegged to the interbank rate, a demand which the government said was not tenable.
To assist in diffusing the standoff, telecommunications tycoon, Strive Masiyiwa through his Higher Life Foundation last week offered to pay each doctor an additional US$310 per month in salary for the next six months among a range of other benefits including transport.
The doctors however rejected the offer by Masiyiwa, arguing that it should be additional to what they were demanding from the employer.
“Following the solidarity meeting we had today, it was agreed that we should stop applying because Higher Life Foundation is trying to arm twist us into accepting their offer. We have received information that members are now being forced to sign on assumption of duty which is now forcing our members back to work.
“Also government is asking for a list of those who applied which shows their fingers in this HLF plan.
“So we are advising our members to withhold the HLF application processes with immediate effect,” said the ZHDA.- New Ziana