BY GARIKAI TUNHIRA/RUVIMBO MUCHENJE
A ZIMBABWEAN living in the diaspora has castigated government’s move to fire nearly 300 medical doctors from their jobs.
Netsai Makarichi, a Zimbabwean based in the United Kingdom, said the move vindicated their demonstration against Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo in July this year.
“When we demonstrated against SB Moyo, people thought otherwise,” she said.
“The firing of the doctors shows the regime is not for the people. Instead of talking with the life savers, the government is busy firing them from their jobs. The government is worsening the situation in hospitals. What is happening is a soft genocide.”
In July, Moyo, who was in the company of Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana and other officials, scurried for cover into their waiting vehicle as protesters, some carrying Zimbabwean flags, hurled insults and pelted them with various items while others, sprayed water.
The visibly-shaken delegation was coming out of Chatham House, where Moyo had just given a presentation.
Makarichi said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration had committed murder against its citizens and, therefore, should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“They shot and killed innocent civilians last year and this year, they have done more. They should be tried at the Hague,” she said.
“We love our country, but when leaders turn against their own people, then there is a problem. I am a victim of Zanu PF, which claims to be democratic. I had to find a new home here in the UK after Zanu PF activists hounded me.”
Doctors have been on strike for more than 60 days citing incapacitation owing to poor salaries and working conditions.
Government last week fired over 200 doctors on allegations that they failed to report for duty.
Zimbabwe has about 1 600 doctors, and at least 516 of them face the axe in a country with a population of 15 million.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association has alleged that student doctors were forced to sit for examinations unprepared as their supervisors have not been reporting for duty for over 60 days after declaring incapacitation.
In a statement, the association accused government of trying to replace the fired and striking doctors with this batch of students.
“We believe this is a well-thought-out move by government to fast-track the release of our juniors into the field,” the striking doctors said.
The doctors argued that this would bring out half-baked graduates with inadequate training to deal with the lives of the people.
“This also affects the credibility of the degree programme, the quality of doctors produced and subsequently the quality of care provided to the patients,” the doctors added.
Student doctors have not had lectures since September when the senior doctors downed tools demanding an increase in salaries.
It is against this background that the association says the student doctors are not ready for the examinations.
“The juniors last week stressed that they had not received enough training due to the ongoing impasse which has resulted in them not having seniors to teach them and patients to learn from,” ZHDA said.
The association urged the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe and the University of Zimbabwe to guard against the “terrible” practice.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights board spokesperson Fortune Nyamande urged government to reconsider its decision to fire doctors.
“Both parties must be alive to the need for dialogue over escalation, and achieving a functional health delivery system in the shortest time framework possible. The right to health and sanctity of life must be the guiding principles in this dialogue,” he said.