STRIKING public hospital doctors have defied President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s latest 48-hour moratorium which came after government reversed its earlier decision to fire them.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, presenting a Cabinet briefing yesterday, said only 46 doctors returned to work after the moratorium, leaving 402 doctors still holding out in the trenches.

“The Minister of Health and Child Care updated Cabinet on the industrial action by public hospital doctors as well as City of Harare nurses. He indicated that 46 dismissed doctors had presented themselves for work at various institutions following the moratorium extended by His Excellency, the President, to the doctors who were dismissed,” she said.

Following the snub, government resolved to be tough on the doctors who had requested an extension of the moratorium and said there would be no further extensions.

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“Cabinet directed that the moratorium lapsed on December 1, 2019 and would not be extended as this would negatively affect patients. Cabinet resolved that discussions on conditions of service would only be held with those doctors who are at work,” she said.

Government developed cold feet and revoked its initial attempt to charge the stirking doctors, with the Health minister Obadiah Moyo saying the 57 senior doctors who were targeted for disciplinary action had now been pardoned.

“The 57 senior doctors have been cleared because of the moratorium. Their cases no longer stand, but the fired doctors who did not report for duty and signed assumption of duty forms stand fired because with the expiry of the moratorium, we have returned to the status quo,” he said.

Government said it would be moving to build a block of flats at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Sally Mugabe Hospital (formerly Harare Central Hospital) and United Bulawayo Hospitals worth $160 million to improve the lives of doctors and their conditions of

National Housing minister Daniel Garwe said work would start as soon as today as government moves to provide houses for doctors, police and civil servants who were affected by low income.