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05.11.2019 Zimbabwe

Dozens of Zimbabwe doctors fired over pay strike

By AFP
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seen here, has so far failed to redress the hyperinflation caused by economic mismanagement under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.  By Jekesai NJIKIZANA (AFP)
NOV 5, 2019 ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seen here, has so far failed to redress the hyperinflation caused by economic mismanagement under his predecessor Robert Mugabe. By Jekesai NJIKIZANA (AFP)

Dozens of Zimbabwean doctors have been fired for taking part in a strike over pay that paralysed public hospitals for two months, the government said Tuesday, as it seeks to curb protests over galloping inflation that has shrivelled wages.

The country is in the grip of a major downturn that has provoked biting shortages of fuel, medicine, and currency as well as surging prices, which unions have said means government employees are struggling to afford even the cost of transport to work.

State doctors say the value of their pay shrank 15-fold over the past year -- a legacy of hyperinflation caused by economic mismanagement under ex-president Robert Mugabe.

His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has so far failed to redress the situation.

The doctors last month defied a court order to return to their wards, rejecting a pay rise offered by the government that they said failed to meet everyday costs.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said 80 doctors had appeared before a disciplinary hearing on November 1, with 77 "found guilty and discharged".

"Cabinet, however, assures the public that necessary measures are being instituted to ensure that the situation in the health sector returns to normalcy in the shortest possible time," she added.

Fuel prices have increased by more than 400 percent since the start of the year, and labour leaders say doctors had to use their savings just to show up to hospital each morning.

Nurses at two of the country's largest government hospitals in Harare last month joined the action and reduced their working days from five to two, according to their association. They later entered into negotiations with the government.

Zimbabwe's main government workers' union announced last week that they will stage a protest march Wednesday to press for higher pay.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Mugabe, who died in September, has promised to revive the economy and declared Zimbabwe "open for business".

A government document early this year said around 7.5 million people -- around half of the population -- in both rural and urban areas would require food aid between February 2019 and March next year.

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