Doctors agree to Strive Masiyiwa’s $100m allowance package, unions call off strike – for now

Striking junior doctors at Zimbabwe’s state hospitals will end a four-month strike after accepting an offer from Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa’s foundation to pay them a monthly allowance equivalent to almost US$300 for six months, their union said on Thursday.

The doctors went on strike on Sept. 3 to protest against poor wages and a lack of adequate equipment and medicines, leaving many poor people unable to get treatment.

Junior doctors in Zimbabwe earn an average of the equivalent of just over US$200 a month, including allowances.

Strive Masiyiwa, through his philanthropic arm Higher Life Foundation, last November set up a 100 million Zimbabwe dollar (US$5.9 million) fund for the striking doctors. 

The doctors initially rejected that offer, saying it was not a permanent solution to their grievances.

Forbes estimates that Masiyiwa, who lives in Britain and owns Zimbabwe’s biggest telecoms company, Econet Wireless, among other businesses, has a net worth of US$1.1 billion.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), which represents junior doctors, said its members should now apply to the fund while negotiations with the government continue. 

“This is not a long-lasting solution but this is an opportunity for our members to go back to work and finish their training,” Tawanda Zvakada, the ZHDA spokesman, said.

There are nearly 2,000 doctors working for the government. 

Under the funding, the doctors would receive a monthly stipend of 5,000 Zimbabwe dollars, a smartphone, transport and uniforms over and above their government pay.

Triple-digit inflation is eroding salaries and savings in Zimbabwe, angering workers who accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of failing to live up to his 2018 election promise to revive the economy.

The government fired 450 striking doctors in November saying their actions were illegal.

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo could not be reached for comment.

Reuters

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