Government is appealing to all health workers to go back to work with immediate effect following a shift in their pay dates from July 14 to tomorrow (July 8), Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare acting Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has said. In an interview with The Herald yesterday, Minister Mandiwanzira applauded all civil servants for holding forte during the difficult times saying they have been true to the national cause. “The payment of salaries for the health sector personnel will now be done this Friday, July 8.
We are very grateful to the Ministry of Finance especially acting Finance Minister Walter Chidhakwa, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya for this deliverable,” said Minister Mandiwanzira. He said the shift in payment of the June salaries was as a result of a directive by President Robert Mugabe in Cabinet on Tuesday to prioritise payment of salaries for the health sector because they were part of essential services.
“I am happy to announce that following a directive by His Excellence the President in Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday) that no stone should be left unturned in the efforts to find money to pay the medical personnel. We have been able to achieve this directive,” he said. He said Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa has been the most vocal in pushing for the urgent attention to the plight of the health sector personnel as an essential service.
Minister Mandiwanzira also said payment of salaries for teachers remain today, July 7. “As far as teachers are concerned, we are overwhelmed by their dedication and would like to express our gratitude to all the teachers who have been carrying out their duties in both the rural and urban schools.
“I am happy to confirm that they will be receiving their salaries tomorrow (today) as per promise,” said Minister Mandiwanzira. The Health Services Board executive director Ms Ruth Kaseke also weighed in urging all health personnel to return to work immediately. “We appeal to our workers to be patient and go back to work with immediate effect,” said Ms Kaseke. In separate interviews, the nurses and doctors said normal services were expected to resume over the weekend.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association secretary general Mr Enock Dongo said while the latest development was welcome, the fact that their members did not have money to go to work remained. He said only after health workers have accessed their salaries would they be able to return to work. “We were not on strike. “In fact, we did not have money to go to work but the latest development is welcome and we hope that as soon as our members access their salaries, they will be able to resume normal services,” said Mr Dondo.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president Dr Fortune Nyamande echoed Mr Dongo’s sentiments adding that health workers need a schedule of their pay dates. “It is now difficult to plan without a schedule on which dates you get your salaries. We are therefore appealing to Government to furnish us with our pay date schedule up to December,” he said. Dr Nyamande also welcomed the latest development in the shift of pay dates saying since health workers were categorised as essential services, the same classification should also apply with regards to their salaries and benefits.
Some doctors downed tools last week citing bus fare challenges to get them to work while nurses and other professionals in the health sector joined in on Tuesday. A snap survey by The Herald yesterday revealed that while critical cases were being attended to at all central hospitals, majority of patients were referred back to council clinics.