By Chengeto Chidi
Doctors have pledged not to return to work until their US$ salaries are pegged at the interbank rate escalating an already ugly standoff with government which threatens the collapse of the entire health sector.
Former Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association(ZHDA) Treasurer Prince Butau said they are likely to extend their incapacitation period to reach 100 days,
“Our aim is to reach 100 days, we are on day 35 of incapacitation, the Minister cannot threaten us because we breached the contract, they are the ones who breached the contract. The contract was clearly stated that my on-call allowance should be paid in US dollars, said Butau.
Junior doctors want their salaries in US$ or an equivalent pegged at going interbank rates, saying that the Health Services Board had presented a bargaining agreement document on 30 March 2018 to review on-call allowances which were stated in US dollars.
The doctors are unhappy that from the time the Ministry of Finance and the central bank introduced the interbank rate everything else had followed the market rate now standing at 1:15 against the USD but their salaries are still at the rate of 1:1.
Butau who said his colleges are not on strike but are incapacitated encouraged fellow doctors to soldier on regardless of the threats by health Minister Obadiah Moyo.
In one swift action the doctors also delivered their letter of resignation from the Apex Council saying it had failed to address the current situation.
ZHD vice president Tawanda Zvakada said comments by Minister will not solve the crisis, nor will it capacitate doctors.
“So we consider this a mockery to the profession. Doctors present also raised concern over the current salaries they are receiving not being enough to cater for even transport costs and likened it to slavery. Doctors called for action to avert humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe and stressed on continuation of the incapacitation period extension until something is done in relation to salaries,” he said.
The doctors also expressed discontent against the government’s reluctance to solve the problem and are terming it “soft genocide” and their willingness to carry out their duty but they are incapacitated by the situation.