LATEST: New headache for President Mnangagwa's government as doctors demand US dollar salaries

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THE Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) has appealed to the Health Services Board (HSB) for better conditions of service saying inflation has eroded their salaries.

In a letter addressed to the HSB, ZHDA Secretary General, Dr Mthabisi Anele Bhebhe, said many government doctors were failing to meet their day-to- day costs as salaries had been devalued by the high cost of living.

“In the core of this economic decline, it is now impossible for government doctors to address their day-to-day basic financial obligations. Imperatively, since the last meaningful salary review in March 2018, transport costs, rentals, medical aid subscriptions and prices of basic household commodities have sharply increased. The parallel market rate of the USD remains a single determent of pricing of basic commodities,” he said.

Dr Bhebhe said they signed contracts which stipulated that they shall be paid in United States dollars under the multi-currency system and that must be honoured.

“The HSB must also recall that in the work contracts that doctors signed, salaries and allowances were clearly pegged in USD. We request the HSB to abide by labour laws and honour legally binding agreements,” he said.

Dr Bhebhe said many doctors risk contracting diseases and infections while attending to patients as hospitals were not providing them with sufficient materials to protect themselves.

In December last year, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube put-paid to any lingering hopes doctors could receive their wages in US dollars one day, declaring that government’s primary revenue sources were not in hard currency.

Ncube said this at a Harare media briefing while accepting a US$1 million cholera emergency grant availed by the African Development Bank Group (AFDB) on government’s behalf.

Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo also said government had no means to pay doctors in forex.

But the treasury boss buttressed the position with a declaration no civil servant shall receive their wages in foreign currency, adding that government had done “enough” for the health professionals.

“Government cannot pay any civil servant hard currency because we are not earning any forex,” Ncube said back then.


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