Being sick in Zimbabwe can be a death sentence even if you are suffering from a very treatable ailment. This is because the hospitals are often undermanned, understaffed and lack basic medicines such as paracetamol and equipment such as cancer machines and dialysis machines. The situation has not been helped by the ongoing nurses and doctors strike that began this week. It is the latest incapacitation incident in the healthcare sector and there does not seem to be any end in sight.

All nurses and doctors from Zimbabwe’s public hospitals are on strike with all healthcare workers demanding a review of their salaries in the face of three-digit inflation that has continued to take a toll on the economy. According to the unions involved, both doctors and nurses from various parts of the country have joined the strike because they are incapacitated and want a pay increase that will see them earning USD with doctors demanding salaries of around US$840.

Nurses from different parts of the country joined the strike just like other employees because the salary negotiations have been ongoing for more than 14 months but are yielding nothing.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president Enock Dongo

The striking healthcare workers recently rejected a 100% salary hike that would have seen them earning double the ZWL component of their salaries starting this coming July. They felt this was not enough even though the government had unilaterally increased their offer from 80%. While a 100% salary hike might seem generous most unions are demanding at least a 300% hike in salaries. They cite constant inflation as an issue as well as the fact that the government has been slow to increase their salaries even though inflation has been ravaging the economy for the past three months. On its side the government says that negotiations are ongoing and has refused to divulge much information.

Government is still in a negotiation process with health workers on the issue of salary increases.

An offer was tabled to the Apex Council and negotiations are continuing.

The health workers were advised that the process is ongoing and they must wait until the conclusion of that process.

It’s not very correct that the majority of them are on strike; it’s only the few who were on strike while a majority are at work and they have been advised that negations for salary increases are ongoing and, therefore, they must go back to work.

Our currency is the Zimbabwe dollar, and we are working towards removing whatever is causing our currency to decline.

We cannot, and we will not determine salaries in US dollars. We will never go to a scenario where we will peg salaries in US dollars.

Justice Minister Ziyambi speaking to Parliament on this issues.

Sticking issues that remain include:

  • The government is offering a 100% hike while nurses and doctors want a 300% hike.
  • Some doctors want their salaries to be set in USD so they can weather inflation better. The government has thus far resisted this idea claiming that the ZWL is our main currency even though things like fuel are exclusively now sold in ZWL.