Doctors have continued with their job action but are now optimistic they will return to work after the latest round of talks with Government on Friday.
Although Government has progressively reviewed its offer, the medical practitioners still insist that they should either be paid in United States dollars or Zimdollar salaries indexed to the greenback.
However, for the first time in the past three months, the doctors have signalled that the discussions are “going well”.
“This was the third meeting in seven days. We met with the Minister (of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo) and the permanent secretary (Dr Agnes Mahomva). We are continuously dialoguing and it is going well; we are very hopeful,” said Dr Tawanda Zvakada, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA).
“We gave them our minimum expectations and they said they will relay back to us. More details from our negotiations will come through a joint statement from us and the ministry, because we have agreed to speak with one voice from now and not give conflicting statements to the media.”
Three hundred and forty-six doctors have been dismissed so far for disobeying a Labour Court order instructing them to go back to work while negotiations continued. The doctors were summoned before disciplinary tribunals at their respective workstations, but the majority did not show up resuting in default judgments being passed against them.
It has since been established that disciplinary hearings at provincial hospitals will begin this week. Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikhosana said 55 doctors are expected to appear before the tribunals.
Minister Moyo has reiterated Government’s commitment to review conditions of service for junior doctors.
He said special focus has been given to addressing their transport and accommodation challenges.
A process of identifying flats to house them is reportedly underway.
The health sector received the second biggest budget vote — $6,5 billion — in the 2020 Budget last week.