The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana has defended the move by government to recruit doctors through the security sectors of the army, police and prison services saying this was standard practice.
The idea that doctors could get employment through practicing in the army since there were no openings in government currently has been largely construed as a ploy to hold doctors at ransom against striking for better wages.
Section 65 of Zimbabwe’s constitution says members of the security services are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining or join trade unions.
Responding to MDC Alliance spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere who had written on Twitter that the medical profession should not be militarized, Mangwana tweeted.. “Surely you should know that the Army has always had doctors, lawyers and all other disciplines within its ranks from time immemorial and its not peculiar to Zimbabwe Its good to oppose but not for the heck it,”
Mahere was responding to an advert by the Health Services Board on the recruitment of 407 doctors with conditions that a proportion will have to be under the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“The medial profession should not be militarized. This wont end well #Zimbabwelivesmatter,” tweeted Mahere.
The army has always had its doctors deployed in public health institutions last year when health caregivers embarked on a months-long strike over poor salaries and working conditions.
Social media reports have slammed government for the move citing that this will weaken doctors’ ability to take part in industrial action.
In a letter addressed to the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Jasper Chimedza (a retired soldier) on the 28th of September, the Health Service Board (HSB) said the Finance Ministry had approved the hiring of 407 JRMOs, but only on condition that some of them are to be appointed under the Defense Forces Service Commission.
“In view of the treasury concurrence, the Health Service Board is recommending that the 230 JRMOs be employed under the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who have indicated that they are willing and ready to do so,” wrote HSB.
Mahere criticized this move saying, “Doctors did not go to medical school for five years only to be told on graduation day that they are soldiers. Their legitimate expectations, dreams and professional standing are on the line just because of bankrupt rulers.”