Political sabotage playing out in Health Sector Impasse

By Ashley Kondo

For months Government has remained seized with a number of issues affecting the country’s health sector ranging from remuneration of health workers, lack of medicines and inadequate funding for Public health centres.

While Government has made commendable progress in attempts to improve the situation, there has not been closure to the issue of remuneration as doctors seem determined to engage in an unending industrial action.

Although doctors play a critical role in the provision of essential health services and are entitled to the right to fight for the improvement of their working conditions and salaries, some of their demands are out of sync with the situation on the ground.

Doctors are demanding that Government pay their salaries paid in United States (US) Dollars or equivalent of what they used to earn during the US dollar era at the current interbank rate.

This demand comes at a time Government is grappling with foreign currency shortages as well as trying to contain its wage bill.

On 14 October 2019, doctors defied a court order compelling them to return to work, saying the 60 percent pay rise offered by Government was not enough to meet their everyday costs.

The rejection of a 60 percent pay rise and refusal to heed the Court order raises eyebrows.

Some analysts have questioned the sincerity of doctors to resolve the matter and move forward given that Government has opened the door for continued negotiations for improved working conditions further to its offer. 

The decision to defy the court ruling for doctors to return to work has left many wondering whether political sabotage could be playing out in the matter as it appears there is an orchestrated agenda to halt business across the country’s health sector.

Possibly to cause widespread discontent among the citizenry and ultimately an uprising against President Mnangagwa’s Administration.

It may be recalled that, last month, business in most health institutions came to a halt amid claims of an abduction of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Acting President, Dr. Peter Magombeyi.

Before the Police could make investigations on the whereabouts of Dr. Magombeyi, opposition elements were already alleging that the State had unleashed security agencies on the former.

Using his Twitter handle, MDC co-Vice President, Tendai Biti, went on to allege, that Government was behind Dr. Magombeyi’s abduction.

“The regime is at it again. Last night we are instructed that it abducted the President of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Dr. Peter Magombeyi. It is our urgent demand to Emmerson to urgently release this young man. Have you not caused enough suffering?”

A purported night vigil to pray for Dr Magombeyi’s safety by a bunch of white “friends and maybe relatives” suddenly erupted the night after his alleged abduction.

However, it later turned out that Dr. Magombeyi’s abduction could have been evidently stage managed. But what was the motive?

While the doctors’ grievances are genuine, they ought to know that there are other workers in the country who are equally bearing the brunt of economic challenges facing the nation.

For instance civil servants have not been spared by the harsh economic environment. At some point in time, they have either threatened or actually gone on strike, but to date they continue to render their priceless labor to the nation.  

To let people die in hospitals because doctors want to be paid in foreign currency which is not there is unprecedented and against ethics of the health profession.

One wonders if the Hippocratic oath taken by our brothers and sister has become a fun show after all.

Doctors must reconsider their position and return to work while they engage Government on possible and alternative ways to improve their conditions of work.

No Government or ruler across the globe would deliberately seek to impoverish its own people or workers.

Zimbabwe is rebuilding and needs progressive and likeminded forces to support the development agenda, particularly professionals, if success is to be recorded.