Junior doctors have continued claiming payment in US dollars as they enter into the second week of an industrial action against the government.
The doctors, at a press conference in Harare yesterday said Zimbabwe’s market is demanding the greenbacks hence the need of the US Dollar.
“Since we are using a multi-dollar currency system, we could be also paid in US dollar currency which is the one that is being charged most commodities on the market,” president of the Junior doctors, Elias Muzoremba said. “or there should be an alternative to match the raised standard or cost of living.”
Secretary General for the junior doctors, Mtabisi Anele Bhebhe said, ” We are aware that there is the issue of US dollar demand and these are things that we are saying, ‘we know that the market is now demanding US dollars; for you to get any medication you need US dollars, for you to buy basic commodities you need US dollars, school fees in January they are charging in US Dollars.”
Besides claiming US Dollars, the junior doctors have also complained about the increasing cost of living in Zimbabwe.
“We have seen that the cost of living has risen,” Muzoremba said. ” The general cost of living has risen by about 3 to 3,5 times or 300 percent due to the shortage of foreign currency.”
“Transport costs have gone up, there is no fuel and basic commodities, in general, have gone up.”
“This is a challenge in the welfare me as a medical practitioner, I cannot continue going to work because the transport costs has risen, basic commodity costs has risen and yet our salaries have not been increased,” Muzoremba said.
In response to the doctors’ plea, the government of Zimbabwe said payment of salaries in US dollars is very difficult in the current environment.
“There is the issue of payment of salaries in US dollars. Naturally, cabinet does not feel that that is the right way to go. Neither is it the right way to think especially in an environment where the United States dollar is scarce,” Minister of Health Obadiah Moyo said.
“We all know that we need the US dollar and in the case of health, to replace all the medicines that we are short of and it would sound awkward for staff to then request payment in US dollars for their salaries.”
“What is more relevant is for the staff to be pushing for the payment of the drugs that require US dollars and that is exactly what government has done; prioritise the working products which are required as a paraphernalia for the basis of carrying out procurement and ensuring that patients are well looked after,” the Minister went on.
Doctors said they had two meetings with the Ministry of Health where they discussed their plea.
“We believe that it is the duty of our employer to also take care of his employees and these are issues that we are willing to discuss with our employer,” Bhebhe said.