11 January 2013

Mozambique: Minister Urges Strikers to Value Efforts of the People

Maputo — Mozambican Health Minister Alexandre Manguele on Friday urged striking doctors to value the efforts made by Mozambicans which guaranteed their training.

The Mozambican Medical Association (AMM) called its members out on strike on Monday in pursuit of a claim for higher wages, and there is still no sign of a solution to the dispute.

Speaking to reporters in Maputo after a ceremony announcing the construction of a new hospital in the northern city of Nampula, Manguele insisted that doctors did not reach their current position in Mozambican society simply by virtue of their own efforts.

“I don’t know how my colleagues see things”, said Manguele. “But it’s thanks to the struggle of the Mozambican people that I am a doctor, and I cannot forget this”.

He stressed that the Ministry of Health is open to dialogue to overcome the current crisis, and pointed out that it was in an attempt to improve doctors’ conditions that the government had decided to grant an allowance of 60,000 meticais (more than 2,000 US dollars) a month to specialist doctors working outside the main cities.

This, he added, was a recognition that doctors working in rural areas did not have the same opportunity that those in the cities enjoy of augmenting their wages through working in private clinics.

Despite the apparent willingness of both sides to resume dialogue, there has been little sign of any further negotiation. The AMM requested legal assistance from the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH), and on Thursday LDH Chairperson Alice Mabota, accompanied by members of the AMM leadership, met with Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina. The content of this meeting has not been made public.

The wage rises proposed by the AMM are 100 per cent or more. The AMM wants the basic wage of a newly trained doctor to rise from 15,000 to 38,000 meticais a month, and the basic wage of a specialist to double from 24,000 to 48,000 meticais a month.

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