Bridget Mananavire 5 March 2017
HARARE – Public health officials – including doctors and nurses – have
called off their crippling strike after reaching an agreement with
government on Friday, ending the stand-off which came at huge cost as
hundreds of patients died during the chaos which ravaged the State
hospitals in the last three weeks.
In the agreement it said it was opening up 6 000 posts for nurses and
increasing on-call allowances for doctors, among a raft of the demands
made by the public health officials.
According to the agreement signed by Parirenyatwa Hospital chief
executive, Thomas Zigora, as government team leader, a P Chivese
representing the workers and a B Chimbunde who chairs the Health Service
Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP), government also promised that it
would not take disciplinary action against the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors
Association executive as it had threatened.
“While noting that in calling for a strike, procedures were not followed,
the meeting agreed that the leadership of workers will not face
disciplinary action,” reads part of the agreement.
“Pursuant to a meeting of the HSBNP on March 3 2017 convened in terms of
section 5 of the health service regulations 2006 (SI 111 of 2006), the
panel made the following resolutions:
“The HSBNP agreed that the base figure for on-call allowance be reviewed
from the $288 per month to $360 per month with effect from April 1, 2017.
The other rates will be reviewed proportionally. The meeting noted that
when fiscal space becomes available the allowance will be reviewed.”
Doctors were calling for an upward review of on call allowances to $720
per month for the least paid doctors.
On creation of vacancies for doctors who would have finished internship,
government made available 250 posts to be filled on a staggered basis,
with effective from March 1, 2017 with quarterly meetings to be held to
look at conditions of service issues.
Regarding the employment of nurses “the panel noted that 2000 posts have
been created for nurses to be filled on a staggered basis, with effect
from April 1 2017 and government would create posts for other health
Currently, the country has 4 000 unemployed nurses, who have finished
training and against a country shortfall of 8 000 nurses, according to the
Doctors have also been demanding a duty-free vehicle import scheme as they
complained that it was difficult for them to attend to emergencies and on
call duty as they could not afford to buy cars. Instead government offered
them an employer-assisted car loan scheme.
“The bipartite should convene at the earliest opportunity to design an
implementation framework for consideration and adoption by government
before May 30, 2017,” the agreement read.
“The meeting agreed that the base figure for night duty allowance has been
reviewed upwards from the current $50 per set to $65 on sliding scale to
$91 per set effective April 1 2017. Government to look at ways of
compensating nurses in management who are not getting night duty allowance
but carrying additional responsibilities.
The doctors went on strike three weeks ago to press the government to
honour its promises of improving their working conditions.
Public hospitals are struggling under the weight of a myriad other
problems, including the shortage of drugs and continued under-funding by
Despite the humongous problems bedevilling the public health sector,
President Robert Mugabe’s misfiring government has once again allocated a
measly budget to hospitals and clinics this year.
In his budget presentation in December, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa
reduced the vote for health from $331 million to a disappointing $282
million – a figure that falls way short of meeting the big demands of the
public health sector.