BY BLESSED MHLANGA
GOVERNMENT, which has been hyping about a huge surplus, is reportedly broke and has been forced to fire 286 doctors because it cannot afford to pay them what used to be their United States dollar salaries at the prevailing interbank rate.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo, speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, said through the Finance ministry, government had tried to show the striking doctors that their pockets were empty.
“The issue of dialoguing never stopped. As a ministry, we have been talking to the junior doctors.
We have been talking to the senior doctors. The other time, I had junior doctors who came to my office. We made each other see the reality that there is no money. We even invited personnel from the Ministry of Finance who explained to them in detail and they were left without any doubt that there was no money in government coffers,” Moyo said.
This comes after government announced that it had fired 286 doctors, with 95 others who are yet to appear before the Health Services Board still facing the guillotine.
“A total of 322 disciplinary cases have so far been heard and the 286 doctors who were found guilty have been discharged. A further 93 doctors from central hospitals and 55 from provincial hospitals will have their disciplinary hearings concluded by November 15 and 22, 2019, respectively. Government is still committed to dialogue,” a government brief on the bloodbath in the health sector read.
Moyo said there was no going back in dealing with government workers refusing to report for duty. Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government was also seized with reports that Harare City Council nurses had also downed tools and there was also a drive to get them fired.
“The situation at the municipal clinics remains constrained, as only 35 out of the expected 104 nurses turned up for duty at the five polyclinics and one hospital,” she said.
“The nurses withdrew their labour over delayed salary payments and are refusing to resume duty even after receiving their salaries. The action by the nurses is illegal, and the employer has been advised to commence disciplinary processes on the striking nurses, in line with the country’s laws. As such, therefore, only those nurses reporting for duty will be paid while their conditions of service are being looked into.”