SENIOR doctors at public hospitals have accused government of committing a silent genocide by refusing to accede to their junior counterparts’ salary demands which has culminated in a two-month-long strike.

In a letter dated October 24 and addressed to Health minister Obadiah Moyo, Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) said the stand-off was likely to drag on as long as the government continues to persecute junior doctors and cast a blind eye to the current incapacitation at health institutions.

In their letter copied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the doctors said there was no justification for government to refuse to pay them United States dollar-benchmarked salaries when the cost of most services and goods were pegged in the same currency.

“Goods and services are pegged in US dollars, making our demand reasonable in order to sustain service delivery,” the letter read.

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“It is our view that the government is currently committing a silent genocide by casting a blind eye to the current incapacitation in hospitals. May we remind you of the constitutional mandate of the government as spelt out in section 29 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013.”

The two-month-long strike by members of the Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) has effectively forced hospitals to shut down.

“As doctors, we work as a team, we need junior and middle-level doctors to be able to function. We are against victimisation of our junior colleagues through hearings and threats of suspensions, yet they are finding it difficult to come to work because of poor earnings. Their incapacitation must be resolved,” the letter added.

Government has withheld salaries of all doctors who have been on strike, saying they will not be paid unless they return to work.

“The SHDA finds the withholding of the paltry salaries to be a joke. If there was a salary to talk about, we would have reason to worry. We hope you shall use the withheld cumulative amounts to capacitate hospitals,” SHDA said.

Nurses have been allowed to work flexible hours by coming to work at least two days a week to ensure that they avoid incapacitation, but SHDA said this arrangement was not good for the health delivery system.

“The flexi hours for nurses and other hospital staff system must be abolished with immediate effect as it is detrimental to patient care, causing avoidable morbidity and mortality. No hospital can function and be able to offer services under such arrangements. Senior doctors are not returning to work in flexi-hours system,” the letter read.