The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZDHA) has warned that the government’s proposed “one-size-fit-all” civil service reforms, which include mass retrenchments and a freeze on payment of bonuses, will further relegate the ailing health sector into the doldrums.
The association, in a statement yesterday, said it was ironic that this came at a time health practitioners were pushing for an improvement in their working conditions, including an upward salary review.
“Any thoughts on reduction of health workers’ numbers can never be entertained,”
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last Thursday announced a raft of cost-cutting measures to reduce government’s wage bill, which was currently chewing 97% of total revenue.
Some of the proposed measures include non-payment of bonuses for 2016, taxing of civil servants’ allowances, salary and job cuts in addition to a massive retrenchment exercise.
The doctors noted that the proposed austerity measures, while well intended to reduce labour costs, could further demoralise the underpaid government employees, particularly in the health sector.
“Our predecessors as the ZHDA in October 2014 jointly with the Minister of Health agreed on a short to long-term plan which was to result in an upward review of basic salaries and on-call allowances,” the statement said.
The ZDHA at its recent annual general meeting called for an upward review of their on-call allowance to a minimum of $720 per month as agreed in October 2014.
The doctors also called for the immediate removal of the blanket freezing of posts in the health sector which had caused serious shortage of healthcare staff in hospitals, resulting in long and unbearable working hours.
“We shall be expecting to get our full bonuses in December 2016, failure of which will result in dire consequences,” the association warned.