Zimbabwe: Health Workers' Strike Put On Hold

29 February 2024

In a significant development, health workers in Zimbabwe have put their intended strike on hold, opting for discussions with the authorities instead.

Health Apex Council (HAC) leader James Sibanda confirmed the decision stating that the strike was postponed pending further meetings with associations representing health workers.

"I cannot say yes or no regarding going forward with the strike, but we are going to have an all-associations meeting tomorrow (today) at 9 am to see how we move from there," said Sibanda.

The health sector in Zimbabwe has been severely impacted by a mass exodus of doctors, nurses, and other experienced personnel who have been protesting against inadequate salaries and poor working conditions.

The exodus has been particularly notable in recent years, with estimates suggesting that over 3,000 health workers have left for the United Kingdom since 2022.

Highlighting the dire circumstances faced by health workers, the Health Apex Council submitted a notice to the Health Services Commission, emphasizing that its members were leading impoverished lives.

Responding to the health workers' ultimatum of a 48-hour strike notice, Minister of Health and Child Care Dr. Douglas Mombeshora argued that resolving grievances cannot be achieved instantaneously.

Speaking to journalists, Mombeshora expressed doubt about the likelihood of the strike taking place as announced by the Health Apex Council (HAC), describing it as unpatriotic and 'unZimbabwean.'

Dr. Mombeshora acknowledged the government's limitations in addressing working condition grievances immediately, stating, "Government does not operate in a manner where if a grievance is raised, by the click of a finger they are addressed."

However, he assured that the government takes all workers' issues into consideration and strives to find means to improve their working conditions.

Encouraging health workers to pursue dialogue with the government, Dr. Mombeshora urged them to bring their concerns to the recently established Health Service Commission (HSC).

He noted that the HSC had only recently begun operations and may require additional time to address all the grievances comprehensively.

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