Striking Zimbabwe doctors reject government offer

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FILE PHOTO: Doctors sing and hold placards during a protest over the disappearance of the leader of their union in Harare, Zimbabwe, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Zimbabwe state doctors who were fired for going on strike have rejected a government offer to return to work, their union said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Doctors sing and hold placards during a protest over the disappearance of the leader of their union in Harare, Zimbabwe, September 16, 2019./REUTERS

The doctors went on strike on September 3 to protest against poor wages, in some cases less than US$100 a month.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which responded to the job boycott by firing 448 doctors and pursuing disciplinary action against more than 1,000 others, on Thursday offered to reinstate them if they returned to work within 48 hours.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade that has seen resurgent inflation soaring to three-digit levels, eroding salaries and bringing back bitter memories of the hyperinflation era of a decade ago.

According to the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), the last wage offer by the government would see the doctors earning a total package, including allowances, of Z$3,900 (about US$240) per month.

The strike by junior and middle-level doctors has paralyzed state hospitals, used by Zimbabwe’s poor majority. Even before the strike, the hospitals had already been struggling with shortages of drugs and other basic products.

On Thursday Parirenyatwa Hospital, the country’s biggest, was deserted, with only a handful of desperate patients being attended to by nurses.

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