Zimbabwe’s junior doctors have vowed to persist with their strike action in defiance of a Monday government directive to resume their duties.
Junior doctors downed tools at beginning of the month to press for a review of their allowances and better working conditions.
The impasse with their employer has crippled operations in major public hospitals with patients turned away because of lack of the critical health personnel.
In attempts to break the deadlock, government on Monday announced a 50 percent review of on-call and night allowances for the health workers which will see allowances pegged at the $1,5 per hour being increased by only 50 cents.
The announcement was made by Health and Child Care Minster David Parirenyatwa at a media briefing that was also attended by Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
The doctors want government to honour its 2014 pledges to increase their on-call allowances to $10 per hour.
But government’s unilateral decision has infuriated the doctors who accused their employer of “blatant lies” and waging “rampant media propaganda campaign” over a non-existent consensus between the parties.
In a statement issued through the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), the doctors were adamant no agreement had been reached with their employer.
“The ZHDA would like to set the record straight that what was announced by the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa on State TV in the evening of the 19th March 2018 is totally untrue,” said the group.
“No agreement whatsoever has been reached and Zimbabwean government hospital doctors are on strike.”
The doctors said they were still waiting for negotiations to conclude between them and their employer.
They insisted their meagre allowances would still not solve the myriad problems affecting public hospitals.
“There are still no drugs in the hospital, even in his untruth, this minister totally omitted to mention anything about what he has done to address the lack of drugs and equipment in the hospitals.
“So, what would the doctors be returning to work for? To stare at patients and watch as the suffering and dying continue?
“We would like to urge the responsible minister to apologise to the people of Zimbabwe, come to the negotiating table and negotiate in good faith, for the good of the nation.
“Until then, Zimbabwean government hospital doctors remain on strike and will not be going to work.”
The prolonged strike by the country’s medical staff is the first such crippling job action to be undertaken by public workers since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over the country’s leadership November last year.
It is a big dent to the new leader’s efforts to reverse years of economic ruin under President Robert Mugabe’s now defunct administration.