Zimbabwe doctors, striking in demand of better pay and facilities, ended their strike Thursday.
Zimbabwean doctors Thursday ended a 40-day strike for better pay and conditions that affected public hospitals. They ended the strike without a deal on salary increases, their union said, but warned that members may not report for daily work due to acute fuel shortages.
The announcement by the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) came just hours before public sector unions were to meet with the government, which was expected to table an offer to expand cost-of-living payments in an attempt to avert more protests.
Junior doctors put down their tools on Dec. 1 complaining about lack of drugs in hospitals and to press for U.S. dollar salaries.
“It is tough to be a doctor in Zimbabwe. You are forced to work inhumane hours. I’m on call every other day attending to patients, I’m a medical practitioner, not a student. I graduated and I deserve to be treated with respect,” said Roseline Makaza, a young struggling doctor.
Teachers are also on strike, and other civil servants have threatened additional action.
Sifiso Ndlovu, chief executive of Zimbabwe Teachers Association, said, “We have a shortage of 19,000 teachers who need to be replaced according to the new curriculum. The pupil-to-teacher ratio is at 1:70 and sometimes goes up to 1:101 in worst case scenarios. If we look at the budget, it was not increased and is at a standstill.”
ZHDA said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had started delivering medicines and other sundries to state hospitals and made a written promise to hire more doctors and review salaries and allowances. However, no timeline was given.
“Our members have begrudgingly resumed work with effect from today as dialogue continues,” ZHDA said in a statement.
“Poor remuneration and the current fuel shortage remain a threat that may spontaneously hinder our members from reporting to work daily.”
The government is set to meet unions representing all civil servants later Thursday where it will make an offer to expand cost-of-living payments, according to the Public Service Commission that employs them.
Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe’s financial system into disarray, threatening unrest.
The southern African nation is short of U.S. dollars, the currency it adopted in 2009, causing price spikes and shortages of basic goods, medicines, and fuel.
With not enough hard currency to back up funds showing in bank accounts, the value of electronic money has plummeted, prompting businesses and civil servants to demand payment in U.S. dollars they can withdraw.