Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) have responded to the move by the government to bar doctors from engaging in industrial action saying they have labour rights just like other government employees.
Addressing the post cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo announced that government had approved a bill (Health Services Amendment Bill) to ban doctors from any form of industrial action with the sectors placed under essential services bracket together with army and police.
In an interview with the Acting president of the ZHDA, Dr Peter Magombeyi said it is embarrassing for a minister to lock doctors into slavery in this modern day.
“We are totally against the bill being proposed by the ministry. We feel like we can not be coerced to go to work, we cannot be forced to go to work. We choose to go to work, especially if the government is failing to meet us half way,” said Magombeyi.
“We feel its not fair on our part. Its modern day slavery and we wont tolerate that. We feel that is embarrassing for a Minister to lock doctors into slavery in this modern day and age,” added Magombeyi.
According to the doctors, the bill will result in unintended brain drain with medical personnel seeking alternative and better working conditions.
In a press statement released today, doctors condemned the latest government move saying it deprives them of their right as workers.
“Doctors must be fairly treated as workers who have full labour rights like any worker in Zimbabwe . They have a right for collective bargaining and to demand better conditions of services.
“We therefore reject any attempts meant to interfere with these rights.We remind the Minister that he is expected to come up with policies that are meant to enable doctors as health care providers in discharging their duties, and suggest solutions to that effect,” read the statement.
“We wish to reaffirm that doctors are committed in providing lifesaving services to fellow countrymen. The current economic environment has made it difficult for a majority of our members to attend to their important obligation as doctors.
“We would like to make it very clear that we simply don’t have the capacity to report for duty anymore. Unless and until this grievance is dealt with accordingly, we will not be able to resume work. We derive no pleasure in abandoning patients. We call upon the Minister and the employer to find a solution to this impasse before they endanger more lives,” further read the statement.