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Zim health workers on go-slow - threaten 'full-blown' strike

21 June 2019 - 06:00 By James Thompson
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Image: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

Health workers in Zimbabwe have threatened to go on strike next week if the government did not address their grievances. 

“We note that some of our stated grievances have not been addressed to date. To this end, we hereby advise your office that from the 17th of June, our members will partially withdraw their services,” reads a notice addressed to government.

The current go-slow will be followed by a full-blown strike within a week, the health workers said.

Since coming into power in November 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been hit with industrial action in the health sector three times. Teachers and other civil servants have frequently also threatened  to down tools.

The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) this week petitioned parliament to consider their plight.

“The associations have said they want teachers to be paid at least US$200 in addition to their RTGS  [real-time gross settlement] dollar salaries,” said speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda.

Also feeling the pinch are university lecturers.

Academics at the University of Zimbabwe wrote to the institution’s administration asking for a two-day working week and also provision of food because their salaries have been eroded. Their counterparts at another state institution, Midlands State University said, “we are now incapacitated”.  They also raised fears that they could miss the target during exam marking currently under way.

Prices of basic commodities and services in the past month have skyrocketed. 

According to the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStat), year-on-year inflation for the month of May rose to 97.85%.

But independent economist Professor Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, says inflation in Zimbabwe stands at 397%.