A number of junior doctors are planning to break away from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) which they say has been “captured” by foreign organisations.
Indications are that the splinter group will be launched soon and will speed up negotiations with the Government to restore normalcy in public health institutions where doctors have been on strike since September 3.
Sources close to the developments said want-away doctors shared similar concerns with their colleagues in the ZHDA, but believed the current leadership was now compromised and playing political games.
They said ZHDA appeared to have no intention of reaching an agreement with the Government in the near future.
The association’s president Dr Peter Magombeyi, who claimed to have been abducted by State security agents and was reportedly living in South Africa, had also turned out to be a divisive force.
“Most doctors behind the scenes are getting frustrated by the way things keep unfolding, so there is a group that has decided to lead like minds into meaningful negotiations with the employer.
“This group believes that while the doctors’ concerns are genuine, the leadership is also not sincere in these negotiations,” said a junior doctor who is part of a steering interim committee.
The doctor, who declined to be named pending the conclusion of certain processes, intimated that the group had the backing of some senior doctors who wanted to bring finality to the crisis in the health sector.
He said the group would soon make itself known to the public, paving way for commencement of genuine negotiations.
“The whole idea is premised on the belief that the current leadership has been captured, which can easily be linked to their conduct in the public sphere,” said the source.
“Magombeyi is living a lavish lifestyle in South Africa while we have not been paid here for three months. We cannot continue to work for other people.”
The possibility of the split emerged recently when the ZHDA refused to take up a scholarship offer by Higher Life Foundation (HLF), which included a monthly allowance of $5 000 for the next six months, a smart phone, a Vaya car pool voucher to access hospitals for up to three trips per day and free Wi-Fi at major teaching hospitals as well as equipment.
These incentives were meant to capacitate up to 2 000 junior and senior resident medical officers to report for work as they completed their studies.
The HLF’s initiative coincided with President Mnangagwa’s moratorium allowing all fired doctors to return to work without any conditions.
However, the ZHDA ignored the moratorium and rejected the HLF scholarship arguing that both initiatives were not addressing their immediate needs.
The ZHDA had previously exhibited traits of double standards or capture when they agreed to signing a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of 27 August 2019 reviewing all health workers’ basic salary by 50 to 76 percent on a sliding scale but later backtracked and disowned the agreement before exiting the Health Apex Council.
A series of meetings held between the doctors and the employer have so far failed to yield any positive results forcing Government to seek legal recourse and to resort to mass dismissals.
All the dismissals were done in absentia as the doctors refused to attend the disciplinary hearings.
Meanwhile, junior and senior doctors yesterday handed over a petition to Parliament with 12 demands around the review of their salaries and improvement of working conditions.
They had walked from the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
Led by Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) vice president Dr Raphael Makota, the doctors wanted Parliament to insist on the urgent revival of the public health sector, cause the enactment of a Health Services Commission and the disbanding of HSB.
They asked Parliament to carry out a guided tour of public health institutions.