Social justice advocacy group, Fight Inequality Zimbabwe (FIAZ) has pleaded with the Government to consider the plight of ordinary citizens who can’t access basic health care in public hospital amid protracted wage talks with striking medical professionals.
Nurses and doctors downed tools on Monday citing poor remuneration and are demanding US$ 800 basic salary to return for work.
Since Monday, negotiations between health workers and the government have been dragging while ordinary citizens languish in public health institutions unattended.
In an interview with 263Chat, FIA Zimbabwe national coordinator Angela Mandoreba said there is need to consider the effects brought about by the strike.
“When we are looking at the strike by nurses and doctors let’s not look at it from the perspective of seeing them as just those workers who are striking for money. Let’s also look at the attendance effects, the consequences of those strikes at the realization of the citizens constitutionally guaranteed rights and in this case we are talking about the right to health care and there are deaths involved.
“It means that ordinary citizens when they get to these institutions they may not get attention they require and some are even dying as a result of these strikes. Let’s consider a human element to this whole issue and we would also like to raise an issue that these nurses and doctors are also part of the working poor the issues of income inequalities that we are talking about and are also fighting for socio economic rescue in the name of their grievances being addressed by the Government,” Mandoreba said
She called on the Government to genuinely address the workers’ concerns and come up with a lasting solution.
“There is need for the Government to genuinely consider and address the grievances of the practitioners in the public health care institutions once and for all. There is need for sustainable solutions, the health sector has been characterised by on and off strikes since 2019 meaning their grievances have not been addressed.
“We need to understand that by addressing the grievances of nurses and doctors in public healthcare institutions the Government will be motivating the health care workforce and ensure that they deliver their services to the citizens in an effective manner and also guarantee citizens access to quality public health care services in Zimbabwe.
“When we are looking about these strikes lets thinking about the rights of ordinary citizens to healthcare, let’s thinking about lives that are lost during this crisis. When we are looking at all this matrix who suffers the most? It is an ordinary citizen because they are the one that depend on public institutions and those with finance are cushioned as they turn to private institutions,” she said.
Addressing Parliament recently Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi said the Government will not determine salaries in United States Dollars.
“We cannot and we will not determine salaries on the basis of the USD. We will work around improving our economy and strengthening our currency but will never go to a scenario where we peg salaries using the USD,” Ziyambi said.
The wage impasse is likely to continue until government puts a better offer on the table. Civil servants are earnings less than US$ 80 as basic salary, in an economy where inflation has reached 131 percent .