HARARE – All along, the whole country had thought that the problems bedevilling the health services sector would remain confined to that sector alone.
Everyone had hoped — against hope though — that the impasse would not take long to get resolved since it involved a key sector.
No-one can ever gamble with health since it is an eventuality that visits everybody at some point in life, including the health workers and the seemingly insensitive leaders themselves.
But because of intransigence and perhaps possible conceit, government took its sweet time to sort out issues with striking junior doctors who were soon joined by their senior colleagues and selected service providers like radiographers and physiotherapists.
Now, teachers and nurses have joined the doctors with government alleging a political hand in the labour dispute.
Coming out with a solution to a problem that has since worsened may not be as easy as it would have been a month ago when it was the doctors alone.
The men that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had entrusted with superintending over the affairs of the Labour, Primary and Secondary Education and Health ministries have been thrust into hot seats.
However, a solution has to be found sooner rather than later because people are dying in hospitals because they do not get to be seen by doctors, while pressure has mounted on private hospitals to attend to those who are turned away at public health institutions.
On the other hand, the fact that teachers and nurses have joined in has obviously increased pressure on government.
There is no room for lying any more. Lives are being lost on a daily basis as lies, misrepresentations, naked insincerity have been part and parcel of negotiations and announcements to end the doctors’ industrial action.
Government has announced on several occasions — through State media — that the doctors had called off the strike with the public only realising later that they were being taken for a ride.
Only at the weekend, doctors were said to have called off the strike but officials representing them were singing a different tune altogether.
There must be something seriously wrong somewhere as no employer would give a statement that is in conflict with his employee if a labour dispute is to get a long-term solution.
Insincerity breeds mistrust and the doctors — as well as other civil servants — will, without doubt, lose confidence in the employer going forward.
Lies can never be the basis of agreement.