Zimbabwe church intervens to mediate between govt and fired junior doctors

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Catholic Bishop Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, VPs Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi

HARARE – Fired doctors have 48 hours to return to work without reapplying or being asked many questions, President Mnangagwa has said in response to a request by Catholic bishops. The doctors were dismissed after being found guilty of absenteeism following a court ruling declaring their strike illegal.

Disciplinary hearings were then instituted by the Health Services Board (HSB) against those doctors who failed to report for duty after the ruling, leading to the dismissal of 448 doctors as of November 26.

Government yesterday gave the doctors a reprieve following a meeting between President Mnangagwa and Catholic bishops at State House.

The President told journalists after the meeting that they had a fruitful engagement with the bishops and agreed to their request regarding the sacked doctors.

“The bishops sent us a pastoral letter of issues they were raising across the board and asking to meet us as leadership. We acceded to their request and we have discussed these issues,” he said.

“I think the major issue that we have covered is the health sector and national health delivery, economic situation and social conditions of the people in the country, (the) political situation and the role and relations of political parties and national dialogue and last, Government, churches and civil society interaction.

“We covered all those areas. We found it very fruitful, the contribution by the bishops who came to meet us. Then, they requested for a moratorium on the question of doctors for two days.”

They asked that the doctors come back and rejoin without application.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu echoed, President Mnangagwa’s sentiments saying their discussions covered a wide range of issues.

“We discussed a lot about the issue of striking doctors,” he said.

“What we managed to extract from Government was that they agreed to give (dismissed doctors) a moratorium for two days to report to work without having to reapply. They don’t need to apply as it had been decided by Cabinet. That one, Government has committed to that.

“The second thing is that we are happy to hear the Government say they are going to help us to equip our mission hospitals also provide drugs.

“We discussed, of course, the economic situation, Government explaining the difficulties that are there and the efforts that they are also making and I think that is the main thing.”

On political dialogue, Archbishop Ndlovu said: “I don’t think there is any change.

“The President is still committed to dialogue, and of course he says what is important is that they all come together.

“It is not a question of Zanu-PF and MDC, but all the political players and he is open to that. That is what he said. He said he is still open to anyone including the leader of the MDC-A (Mr Nelson Chamisa).” – Herald

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